225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 5.
- The week began with 225 Troop ready to embark on Ex QUICK COVER, a 3 day long exercise located in the heart of Woodbury Common designed to teach us how to effectively camouflage and conceal ourselves whilst in the field. Using the landscape around us we had 15 minutes to use our surroundings in order to effectively make ourselves blend into the scenery. This was accomplished by tearing away at the grass, gorse, bracken and ferns provided by the surroundings and placing them into the elastic around our helmet and webbing. Monday evening was all about lectures on effective movement over terrain during effective enemy fire lead by Corporal Philips. Later that evening it was all about getting ourselves prepared for the infamous ‘wet and dry routine’; to do this we took a visit to Peter’s Pool, a lovely stretch of extremely clean and warm water, where we got wet, jogged back and performed stand to after which we continued with our usual harbour routine.
- The following Morning saw us attempt a kit muster which was to be laid out after morning routine around harbour. Most of us learnt the hard way just how important it was to have a clean rifle and kit, to have rust on your weapon could affect its ability to function which could clearly risk both your own and oppo’s life if you were required to use it. The day then consisted mainly of RTR (Return fire, Take cover, and Return accurate fire) which we, as a collective, found interesting as we were finally being taught the basics of combat effectiveness after weeks of mastering the ironing board! Later in the day we were called to a view point for a quick lesson in observation and scanning. The Corporals had placed 10 items within a specific area of woodland and using proper technique and out SUSATs we then had to try finding and identifying then from a distance.
- The Wednesday morning saw us wake up to rain and blinding fog making morning routines and kit muster even more unpleasant, so much for being part of a sunshine Troop! However whilst it was unpleasant most of the lads seemed to take on board what has been taught as many of performed to a better standard. After all of our morning antics were over and all stores loaded, we attempted our first trial at what the Royal Marines call ‘yomping’. This is where you carry all of your kit and equipment and yomp across the battlefield regardless of terrain and weather. Despite only carrying 37lbs, the weight of an A-level student’s school bag, many of the Recruits fatigued and struggled with the 4 mile yomp. It was a bit of a shock to the system and a big reality check given the weight, distance and fatigue we have prior to yomps is only going to increase.
- Thursday morning saw the Troop perform another kit muster of which didn’t quite go as well as we had hoped. We soon realised that it wasn’t up to standard when the CSM as well as OC decided to pay us a visit and give their thoughts on the matter. Needless to say that because of the failed efforts of the Troops kit muster we were assigned to disservice all of our kit again that evening under the watchful eyes of the Corporals helping ensure that it was done correctly and to a standard that was acceptable.
- After a long week the Troop were grateful and thankful to finally reach Friday and Families Day, a day that most of the Troop had been waiting for since arriving at CTC. The day gave our families the chance to see what we had been up to over the last 5 weeks placing particular focus on drill and IMF, it also allowed them to ask any burning questions they had regarding Recruit Training. After the Q and A the Troop were allowed to see their families and take them to the galley to allow them to experience the delights of pussers scran before departing CTC for a weekend for a well-deserved catch up and some R and R.
225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 6.
- Week 6 for 225 Tp saw us return on Sunday evening from a relaxing long weekend leave at home to our new home at CTC. The atmosphere was one of nerves and trepidation, with the Troop expecting a tough week as a result of various misdemeanours and failures the previous week. However the lads grouped together in the accommodation, ‘spinning dits’ about their weekends and before long the mood began to lighten and we tried to fight off the ‘Lympstone Blues’.
- Monday morning however, saw the anxieties expressed the night before return as we conducted morning routine and formed up on the road at 06:55. The day started off by collecting weapons from the armoury, ready for a later lesson, before heading to the medical centre for round two of inoculations. This was followed by a lesson on how to boresight our rifles for later in the week when we would conduct our first live firing package. The rest of the day consisted of physical training and first aid lectures before we were thinned out for personal admin. The day had gone smoothly…too smoothly.
- Tuesday morning saw the troops anxieties become a reality as we were led down to the river Exe estuary at 06:30 to conduct the infamous mud run. The Recruits were reminded of our failings through a series of exercises through the thick ‘honking’ mud, until everyone was covered head to toe. Spirits remained high however, as the training team reminded us that ‘civvies’ pay thousands for this ‘spa treatment’. The rest of the day was again more relaxed, with first aid lectures and our first map reading lectures filling up our time.
- Wednesday saw the troop conduct their first 5 mile boot run on the roads surrounding CTC, which was cheeky to say the least however the Troop managed to complete the session with few issues. Following this was a lecture with the camp padre, looking in depth at the ‘Commando spirit’. As always it was a valuable lecture, with the padre offering different perspectives to the Recruits about what it means and takes to embody the Commando spirit. This was followed by lectures, more physical training and an introduction to the JPA system. Pay Day had arrived! For many of the Troop this was their first payment, a little better than parents’ pocket money!
- Thursday was by far the most exciting day the recruits have had since joining CTC (with the exception of families day), as the Troop was taken down to Straight Point Ranges to conduct live firing, the first time many of us had fired a rifle. Troop spirit was high and the competition fierce as the Recruits tried to establish themselves as the hotshot marksman of the group. At the end of the day the troop returned to CTC still buzzing about the ‘hoofing’ day of shooting that had taken place.
- Friday saw the Troop return to the classroom, with a day of map reading lectures in preparation for Ex MARSHALL STAR on the Monday. After being briefed and introduced to maps, bearings and the equipment we would be using to navigate around Woodbury Common. This concluded the detail for the week, with the troop left over the weekend to conclude their personal admin and prep their kit for exercise Marshall Star and the start of week 7.
225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 7.
- This week saw us depart for Ex MARSHALL STAR which would test us on everything we had learnt so far in the previous seven weeks but with a particular focus on map reading. This included finding 8 figure grid references, taking bearings and writing a detailed description of the route we had planned ahead of us.
- We arrived in Woodbury Common and went straight into lectures and we were taught how to make range cards. These are a detailed description of the surrounding areas of the sentry post, including prominent features and their distances from your position as well as much detail as possible about well covered positions, DF (direct fire) positions etc. The purpose of these are for when someone else comes on sentry they know the lay of the land and how best to defend the rest of the Troop from attack.
- The lectures progressed onto how to create route cards, these are a detailed description of a route you have planned using a map and includes details such as bearings, back bearings, distances, time taken etc. Unfortunately there is no Google Maps allowed! The idea of these cards are so that if you lose your compass or map, you can pull out your route card and you can trust that the route card is detailed enough to get your destination. We were also shown how to navigate at night and the difficulties involved in it, such as how things can be underestimated at night like distances and being able to differentiate between different objects.
- As many local residents basked in the glorious sunshine and enjoyed the picturesque surroundings of Woodbury, we were reminded that Royal Marines must exercise their bodies as well as their minds even when on exercise. Just we thought we were safe from our PTI (physical training instructor) for a few days and that he cannot touch you…he just so happens to arrive at our location! Just when you think things can’t get much harder, they do! We are beginning to learn the phrase that is infamous with Recruit Training, the ‘dislocation of expectation’.
- As training progresses, so does the requirement for us to think more tactically, for instance after attempting our first go’s at navigating we were then told we could not use tracks or paths when moving in order to minimise chance of being seen by the enemy. We are also learning that whilst civvies may love Woodbury Common, Recruits hate it! Everywhere that isn’t a track or path is thick gorse. Moving through it causes some ‘discomfort’ and by the end of the week we were all feeling the effects of this!
- Navigation was not the only thing that began to become more tactically minded as we were taught how to ‘stalk’ the enemy, a very important skill this means to move very carefully and deliberately when moving into position. It allows you to move into a position discretely and note down information about a target that may be useful such as age, height, build, distinctive features and what vehicles may be close by. Later on that evening we were allowed to stalk our Training Team to see if our camouflage and concealment was effective whilst moving. The aim was to get close enough to them and then take shots at them (using blank rounds…) then an instructor would come and stand 5 meters from you, the spotters would then try and locate you. If they couldn’t, you were successful and were on your way to becoming a sniper.
- That evening, we were sent out on our last tactical night nav which was the hardest by far. Kindly the Training Team then rewarded our efforts by treating us to a lovely night’s sleep under the stars… Until we were bumped! A bump is when the enemy has followed you back to your harbour area and have contacted the Troop, you then have to win the firefight and extract to the emergency rendezvous point. This is not easy or enjoyable in darkness when you have just woken up!
- An enjoyable but difficult week that saw us learn a lot. The Troop continues to reduce in size however those that are left are beginning to pull together as a team and develop a Troop identity, undoubtedly we will need this more and more as training continues to ramp up in intensity.