225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 9.
- This was an important week for 225 Tp with two important physical miletones; the BFT (battle fitness test – a mile and a half run as a Tp followed by a best effort mile and a half return run that must be completed in under 11 minutes) and the Gym Pass Out Test. We were nervous going into the week but as ever with CTC, we didn’t have time to dwell on it as we went straight into the BFT on Monday morning. Temperatures are soaring in Devon but fortunately, so were our run times and the whole Tp passed the test. One down, one big one to go!
- Map reading and first aid were also important components of the week, both are very important skills to being Royal Marines. We have all heard the stories of lost (or navigationally challenged as our Troop Commander refers to it) Recruits on Dartmoor and none of us wanted to be one of them during Ex HUNTERS MOON which we would undertake in Week 10. It is also an unfortunate but realistic part of life as a Royal Marines Commando that first aid skills are crucial and as such the whole Troop paid full attention during lectures. Slick and efficient first aid drills could genuinely be the difference between life and death, with this in mind the whole Troop (for once) managed to stay awake for an entire lecture!
- The end of the week saw us undertake Gym Pass Out, this is a test we must all pass before we can be allowed to progress onto the Bottom Field Assault Course. We had been doing practice run throughs of the Test in the previous few weeks in the lead up to the day itself without issue, as such confidence was high amongst the Troop…too high. Our performance was extremely poor and whilst everyone just about did enough to pass as an individual, the Troop failed as a whole. Like everything in the Royal Marines, there are no individuals which meant that we all failed. It was a massive wake up to the Troop and it became an even bigger one when the PTI Chief of Staff informed us that we would be doing the test again at 0630hrs on Saturday morning! Fortunately the early morning start didn’t affect us and the Troop produced a much improved performance.
- The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and recovering, including an afternoon at the CTCRM family funday. This is where the Corps shows just how much of a family it really is, there were hundreds of families and friends of those trained ranks that work at CTC. It was an interesting experience to see members of the Training Team, professional and hard during the working week, show that they actually have a softer side when around their families (somehow I don’t think this will be the same side we see on Monday morning!).
225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 10.
- This week would see 225 Troop deploy on Ex HUNTERS MOON where we would put our newly learned navigational (hopefully not first aid!) skills to the test on Dartmoor. Dartmoor is known and feared by all those who have undertaken Recruit or Young officer training at CTCRM, it is a harsh and unforgiving area where the weather can change from sun to snow in an instant. It is also home to the ‘clag’, mist so thick that you can’t see the man in front of you when it really descends.
- Fortunately the weather Gods seemed to smile yet again on 225 Troop and we arrived to Dartmoor in glorious sunshine (but for how long!?). We began the exercise with a relatively short 4 mile insertion yomp (short by Royal Marines standards!) from Princetown onto the Moor, we were encouraged to get to know the area well and memorise it for we would not see it again until our Final Exercise and then the infamous 30 miler. After arriving to our harbour location we were briefed on the next detail, a day navigation exercise in our sections. We began to write our route cards and study our maps in order to familiarise ourselves with the route. This navigation was completed without much difficulty.
- As the exercise progressed, so did the complexity of the navigation. We moved from day time navigation into moving at night, first with our section commanders as a section before moving into our 4 man fire teams and navigating without instructors. Night navigation is an interesting experience, you literally cannot see where you are going and you have to put complete trust in your compass and the bearing you have when doing your route preparation. It was by far the most complex navigation we have done yet, whilst we have done night navigation on Woodbury Common we benefit from the ambient light caused from towns and villages surrounding it. On Dartmoor there is absolutely nothing which makes navigating much more difficult, as two of the syndicates were to find out! They managed to become ‘navigationally challenged’ and were completely unable to find the checkpoint or the metalled road we were told to make our way towards if completely lost. This resulted in the Training Team looking for the lost patrol all night and into the following morning until the syndicates were found, this then resulted in a very tired and grumpy Training Team which is never good news!
- The end of the navigation phase came with a cheeky bonus extraction yomp which was our longest so far and definitely tested the whole Troop. It is a worrying thought to think that these yomps are only going to become longer and with more weight on our backs! We arrived to the next area only to have all of our kit and equipment prompty removed from us, some reward after carrying it all that way! We were left with only the clothes that we stood up in and our small survival tins, for the next two days we would have to fend for ourselves and endure little to no food and create our own shelters. Whilst it sounds cheeky (which it definitely was!) it is also a lot of fun creating your own shelters and making your own fires. We were visited by the infamous Royal Marines Mountain Leaders who gave us further survival tips and advice as well as showing us how to kill, gut and prepare animals to sustain ourselves, there were no vegetarians on that day after two days with no food!
- Week 10 was a tough but interesting week and we have all learned a lot over Ex HUNTERS MOON. The next two weeks will see us complete an intensive range package that is designed to bring our weapons handling and shooting up to the standards required of a Royal Marine, a nice way to build up towards a much anticipated and needed summer leave.