221 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 1
- It was the 15Th of February 2016 which was the start date for 221 Troop. The day started off with a nervous but exciting train journey for the recruits we were met by our Troop DL at the train station, where we were then taken to the foundation block where we would be living for the next two weeks. We spent the first evening all getting are haircuts and getting to know all of the recruits and settling into the new accommodation.
- We got straight into training the next day getting kit issued and doing gym test which all the recruits completed to the best of their ability. We then began to get different lectures on administration and personal hygiene, the standard is very high but can be achieved when the troop works together to get all the different things done.
- We had locker and accommodation inspections each morning getting different points on our personal admin and accommodation which we then needed to improve with the troop giving 100%. As this was happening we were also learning some of the basic gym routines and the standards in the gym. The gym routines we started to learn were the four corners and how to rope climb. We then finished of the week with drill which was a new experience for all of the recruits.
221 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 2
- As we moved into week two the standards raised rapidly. IMF sessions increased in intensity with the introduction of camp circuits and a lot more focus on rope climbs. It was safe to say the troop was ‘hanging out’ with many lads suffering from rope burns.
- Tuesday marked our first exercise. In the day we were issued our rifles at the armoury, this really started to make training feel like we were progressing. After packing our bergans and webbing we had a small march down to bottom field. The troop was then shown a demonstration on setting up a bivouac This involved making sure the canvas was pulled taught (as I later found out having ice drip onto my face) and the pegs were firmly set in the ground. Having set up our shelters for the night we got a demonstration on the wet and dry routine, this involved a dip into the tank to make sure the troop was thoroughly drenched. We were then shown how to get out of wet kit and into our dry kit, this featured some good advice on which kit to put on first to get you warm quick. The troop then got into their sleeping bags and got their heads down for 15 minutes only to be woken up and told to get back into wet kit. It was explained to us the importance of sentry duty and the ‘harbour’ which is creating a safe perimeter in which to sleep. 2 section organised a sentry rota which involved getting up twice through the night and doing 1 hour shifts.
- The majority of the next day was spent de-servicing the kit we had used on exercise the previous night. One bloke fully submerged his sleeping bag whilst cleaning it much to the amusement of the troop and training team.
- Thursday was spent with an introduction to rifle drills and preparing for our final locker inspection. This was much awaited as the troop was keen to finally leave foundation block and get into our 8 man grots. Having spent most of the night globe and laurelling all of our kit we finally got our heads down around 2am.
- Friday morning’s inspection didn’t go according to plan as a lot of the accommodation was not to the required standard but after all the pick-up points were rectified we finally left foundation block and onto bigger and better things.
221 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 3
- Week two came to an end and after having two final inspections both on the Friday and Saturday morning, 221 troop were a finally able to leave foundation and move into C block, our home for the next 30 weeks or so for those lucky enough to get through with no hic-ups. Everyone was pleased to be free from the foundation block, the first small victory for 221 troop in our time at CTCRM.
- On Sunday we had our first Corps church service, and interesting experience and a welcome change of pace. I get the feeling it may be a sanctuary to get a quiet five minutes here and there throughout the arduous weeks to come. The communion service was interesting for those who aren’t particularly religious but most of the lads stayed and enjoyed it all the same. The chaplain introduced the corps prayer to us and highlighted how the commando spirit is embedded within and gave us some motivation to get through training. On the Sunday afternoon we began to get the accommodation to standard fit for the training team…
- We hit the ground running on Monday with an inspection from the training team; we didn’t perform too well on the initial inspection and there was a realisation we were out of the security of foundation, the gloves were off and the standard required firmly set! This theme continued throughout the week, with admin ramping up to get the accommodation and personal bed spaces and lockers ready for the following days- toward the back end of the week the troop pulled together more and inspections were getting better and the troop are starting to pull together more, understanding that things get done quicker working as a unit, and that the standards are high for a reason in the Corps.
- The training team began imparting their wealth of knowledge and week 3 saw a lot of weapon handling lessons down in the stances, it was awesome for the troop to get going with some of the soldiering side of things and replace an iron with a weapon system. A lot of important drills to learn and certainly not a lesson to “nod” off in, I definitely realised why they call us “nods” these past few weeks!
- We’ve done so much this week, it’s hard to get everything down on paper as the days are long but the weeks go quickly, some lectures on service law by the RMP’s and cold weather, layering and hypothermia to name a few. Drill has been a focal point of this week’s activity in what seems like the holy grail of CTCRM, the parade square and drill shed, it’s been great to be marching on the same square that so many Marine recruits have passed out on, everyone has been enjoying the drill and getting used to the etiquette. 221 Troop had barrack dress trousers fitted during week 3, something to look forward to and get us looking the part for families’ day, everyone is excited to look the part and more like marines in barrack dress trousers, small things hey.
- I’ll finish with the main thing on everyone’s mind, the phys! It’s been going off in the gym and in the pool, definitely more intense and lots more of it, some of the lads had some minor injuries due to it ramping up. It’s hard and we are broken after but it brings us all together and we have a laugh about the hardships in the gym when it’s over, no tank dips in week 3 also which is a plus! The physical side is expectedly tough, but we’re starting to feel fitter and push harder each time. Our PTI is hard on us but it’s all part of the journey!
221 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 5
- Week 5 saw us deploy Ex Quick Cover. We yomped there with our day sacks and webbing and arrived at Woodbury Common at about midday. On the first day we had a lecture on the 7 S’s about how things are seen for example a black bomber (water bottle) was very noticeable in the sun because of its shine. We also had a lecture on camouflage, this was the first time we had learnt about camouflage and concealment. We had to apply cam cream and use the vegetation around us like plants and gorse to blend in to the different environments and our surroundings. At the end of the day we had to practice the dreaded wet and dry routine, the corporal led the way, showing us how to carry out the correct routine, telling us to dip under water and come out showing no emotion despite our muscles seizing up in the freezing cold water. Throughout the night we had to practice our normal sentry routine getting in and out of our wet kit.
- On the second day we learnt about judging distances, different methods and how visibility deteriorated as objects are seen further away. We also learnt how to draw a panoramic and to spot different objects in the distance.
- Om the final day, in the morning we learnt about contact drills, and got the opportunity to conduct some CQB. We had to walk through some woodland where targets would pop up and then we had to react carrying out the RTR (return fire, take cover, return aimed shots) drills, firing blank rounds at targets and moving across the ground. We had to move into different firing positions and find cover while engaging the targets. Even over a short distance this proved to be physically demanding work.
- Exercise Quick Cover was a good exercise and we learnt a lot in a few days firing some blank rounds. All in all it was a good exercise and the guys look forward to developing these skills further when it comes to section and fire teams later on in training.
221 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 6
- Coming back to Lympstone after 2 weeks of Easter leave was always going to be difficult. Knowing that you are leaving all the comforts of home; watching TV, eating and drinking too much, to then come back and carry on with some long arduous training is quite a daunting feeling, nevertheless everyone made it back. Two weeks Easter Leave was a great opportunity to rest and recover and take in everything we had learnt and experienced over the previous five weeks.
- Luckily for us, week 6 is known to be quite chilled out in comparison to other weeks and so far it has been one of the more relaxing weeks of training. Everyone came back from their holidays feeling refreshed. However it took a few days to get ourselves back in to training mode again. On day one we had our sections re-organised and so room changes were conducted hastily while preparing for the week ahead.
- Monday and Tuesday was mostly spent carrying out the usual routine with some tough IMF sessions, which showed how much our physical fitness had slipped over two weeks. Plenty of rope climbs, camp circuits and sprints in the gym as well as general admin, medical jabs, and lectures. Other more exciting lectures and parts of training started in Week 6. We had our introduction to First Aid which would be the start to developing our team medic skills, which have become increasingly important to the role as a Royal Marine on the front line. Also our first lectures on Map Reading and Navigation, learning about OS maps, what they are and how to find grid references and identify features on the map and ground and taking bearings. The guys have found this particularly interesting and useful.
- On Wednesday, we paid particular attention to our skill at arms drills, going through the marksmanship principles and characteristics of the SA80 A2 which was a well needed refresher. We also got our individual rifles collimated (a device that ensures the sight points where the rounds will go) in preparation for the firing range, each man testing and adjusting until their rifle fitted to the centre of the screen which would aid their shooting on the range.
- Thursday was a day a lot of the guys had been looking forward to for some time as we headed down to Straight Point for the first time to learn about shooting on the range. Set in between a caravan holiday resort seemed quite a strange place to be, with it being right by the beautiful Devon coastline however it was very windy. We first ran through the firing positions and principles of firing getting to grips with more stable positions, then into the DCCT room, an electromagnetic indoor computer system that tracks your shots and can identify patterns in your shooting to help you get on target. Using this information we were then sent down onto the 25 meter firing range. Firing five shots at each target from several different positions we had practiced from the prone, standing and keeling positions. Overall some pretty good shooting considering a lot of people have never shot before.
- Friday was as normal with lectures and a tough upper body and beam circuit training in IMF. But most the guys have really been focused on Exercise MARSHALL STAR coming up in week 7. Week 6 has been fairly relaxed but with lots of learning and a good working week to settle back into the swing of things to come.
21 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 7
- The first day of the week kicked off with Exercise Marshall Star this was the first exercise for us back from two weeks leave, and the troop was adamant and determined to put behind them the previous mistakes and start a fresh and smash the next exercise. We set off to Woodbury with a yomp which wasn’t too bad, the weather was beautiful and the whole troop was praying for it to carry on through the week. When we reached our harbour area we unloaded the wagon with our gear and stores and set up the team tents. Our first lecture was on firing commands, shouting out if we see the enemy and how to correctly point out to the rest of the section where they are. We went over getting bumped and contacted in the harbour area whilst the troop are sleeping or on sentry. As it was the first time we practiced it we were pretty slow and quite shocked with adrenaline.
- The next morning we had our first kit muster, and from when we woke up it was not a great start as most of the troop had forgoten to pack their boots in bergans after coming off sentry. That morning we had our kit muster, this was a chance to show the training team how much we’d stepped up and want to show them that we want to be here and get past the previous mistakes. I passed the kit inspection and my section cpl was shocked with my rifle and kit he even shouted over the other corporals to inspect my kit. I’ve got to admit It was a great feeling to pass and not to be put on the flank knowing I’d stepped up, that was a proud moment on exercise. And well worth the extra effort. The following day we focused on navigation in the day planning route cards and locating the bearings of grid references. The following night we did a night navigation which was quite interesting, a few of the lads from my section come back with cuts and bruises from stumbling in the dark, but was all good fun. We were taught that night vision is very important and that it can be ruined by any lights for example if we see white light coming to us to close one eye therefore we don’t ruin one eye’s night vision. I lead our section most of the nav and helped the others that wasn’t that strong with the night navigation. The next day focused on stalking, we split in half and one half lay down to search for the opposition half to hide and crawl as close as they could to us without being seen. When it was my teams turn to stalk we had 10 second to run as far and into cover as fast as we could, I crawled upto about 400m away from the corporals looking for us with bino’s and I had them in my sights, but I came across a problem that my cover was stating to wear thin and there wasn’t much cover to crawl through, I was soon caught out but I did enjoy the stalk. The next day we yomped back with our bergans. I was quite exhausted from the whole exercise so I was hanging out with the start but I pushed through and made it with the troop till the end. We got back and began the long tedious task of de servicing our kit and rifle but I managed to get all my stuff done but the next morning the accommodation was in a state, therefore upon inspection the troop lost our weekends, on the Saturday we packed for another field exercise and went down the bottom field where we had lectures on LOA, ROA and axis the night followed with wet and dry routine and sentry duty which wasn’t a good way to spend our weekend. I’d say we all learnt our lesson that weekend.