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.
225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 11& 12.
- For 225 Troop, weeks 11 & 12 would see us move down the estuary away from CTCRM to conduct our two week range package at Straight Point Ranges just outside Exmouth. The weather conditions promised to be excellent which was good news as we were all keen to become more familiar with our weapons systems, there is no point in training to run 30 miles if we cannot fire accurately at the end of it!
- The shoots were all designed to be progressive so that we could establish our points of aim at various distances and firing positions. The initial shoots are also for us to be able to ‘zero’ our weapons, this is where we adjust the sights on our weapons to ensure that any round fired goes exactly where we aim. The end goal of the package would be for all members of the Troop to successfully pass their ACMT (annual combat marksmanship test) that all members of the Armed Forces must pass to various standards. It was a good start to the package as we saw our shooting steadily improve and enjoyed plenty of coastal Devon sunshine.
- The second week moved into more advanced shooting, including Close Quarter Marksmanship, an area that the Royal Marines have become specialists in. The week is led by the Royal Marines Combat Marksmanship Team, Marines who have been handpicked for their shooting and coaching ability. They are absolute specialists in their area and the Troop was keen to absorb as much information from them as possible. This introduction gave us an insight into the variety of body positions and methods used to fight at close quarters. However fun and enjoyable the range package was the reminder that we are Royal Marines Recruits was never far from reality with daily visits from our PTI. I think the sight of 225 Troop ‘enjoying’ some physical training was enjoyed more by the many tourists in the neighbouring caravan park than it was by us!
- All in all it was a very enjoyable two weeks spent on the ranges, we have made a lot of progress and some of us are even able to call ourselves a marksman which entitles us to wear the infamous crossed rifles on our ceremonial uniforms (should we ever pass out of CTCRM and be issued them that is!). What made the package even better was that the end of the two weeks meant we were going on 3 weeks of much needed summer leave, not a bad way to finish.
225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 13.
- On Sunday 4 September, the members of 225 Troop returned from a glorious three weeks of summer leave. There were mixed feeling about being back on camp but I think everyone without a doubt everyone had got back in to the swing of things by Monday morning because our troop for the first time would be exposed to CS gas – the gas they use during public order incidents. The Troop donned our CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear) gear utilising the buddy-buddy system and then one group at a time we entered a sealed room full of CS gas… My thoughts on the experience was that the gas shocked me in regards to how it reacted to my skin and particularly when I went outside and got some fresh air my eyes started to uncontrollably stream. I think it’s safe to say it would be difficult to operate effectively when exposed to an irritant such as this, I have no idea how football hooligans can handle it!
- The next significant event/exercise of the week was Ex BAPTIST WALK. This exercise would put all of our ‘green skills’ (our overall ability to soldier) to the test. The exercise involved Fire Control Orders, Static Map Reading test, Observation Stances, Target Indication, Stalks, Cam and Concealment, Night Navigations, Kit Musters and finally an 8 mile yomp with a full bergen… Overall the exercise was successful however the point of this exercise was to identify any weak areas and improve on them before our next exercise, Ex BAPTIST RUN which would test everything we have learned so far in Recruit Training.
- The week ended with a trip to Normandy which was an enriching experience, we were very grateful for having the opportunity to learn about the Corp’s illustrious history, specifically with WW2 and our involvement in D-Day on 6 June 1944. The trip had a positive effect on us as a Troop and we all realised that we had a big responsibility on our hands to continue the legacy of the men that gave their lives in Normandy and to continue to uphold the reputation of the Royal Marines that has been passed down from Troop to Troop for decades.
225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 14.
- There was no let-up in the program as we arrived back from France at 0100 hours Monday morning straight into cracking admin ready for a 0530 hours reveille on Tuesday, nobody said it would be easy or everyone would do it! Monday was the introduction to signals (using radios) after a nice ‘relaxing’ swim where we practiced hypoxic capacity circuits, essentially swimming underwater repeatedly without chance for rest or recovery breathing. This is done with the intention of improving our lung capacity and increasing our red blood cell levels, very scientific but we are told it will make phys easier!
- The fast pace of the day continued and we next advanced to more complex CBRN serials later that day which included Immediate Action drills in case of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack. Putting a gas mask on in 5 seconds is not easy but we soon mastered it. Monday night we packed our bergans ready for the most rigorous preliminary kit muster we have faced so far prior to deploying on Exercise BAPTIST RUN on Tuesday night. Given this exercise could decide our future, or more worryingly the lack of future, with the Troop nerves were running high.
- Tuesday morning saw us have a physically demanding session on bottom field which included learning the ‘full regain’ on the horizontal ropes with 15lb plus SA80 rifle. The regain is the technique taught to all recruits in case of an accident on the ropes, essentially you deliberately let yourself fall off the rope and then execute the regain in order to re-establish yourself under control back on top of the rope – we are now beginning to understand and practice the Commando methods of movement. After this we continued with Signals, learning proper radio voice procedure used across the Armed Forces. At 1900 hours we had our kit musters laid in the drill shed ready for the training team to mark us. This commenced our final test and exercise of Phase 1 thus far.
- Reveille Wednesday morning was shifted left much to our horror at 0430 hours. The reason behind this was because we had a 4 mile speed march with 21lb plus SA80 rifle. Two other Troops further ahead in training had conducted the 6 mile speed march and encountered difficulties due to the heat so we set off before it was properly light to avoid this. Fortunately, the early start didn’t put us off and the Troop performed well with only one failure just 200 metres from the finish. Deployment for BAPTIST RUN commenced not long after this and the real tests in the field started; static map stances, observation testing, fire control orders, target indication, solo night navigation exercises and field kit musters were all areas we had exams on…worse than school!
- The exercise spanned over 2 days and 2 nights, finishing on Friday morning with a CFT (Combat Fitness Test) which was conducted whilst carrying a 55lb bergan plus our SA80 rifle and running/yomping 8 miles back to CTC in under 2 hours. After tidying up the field admin and returning apparatus to stores we thinned out at roughly 1500 hours. From then on we de-serviced and re-serviced our kit ready for Saturday’s morning post exercise kit inspection which was our last test of the exercise. Needless to say we were up late at night to get squared away.
- The physical training didn’t stop as we had another hard session on bottom field including everything we had learned so far. The Troop was watched by a lot of members of the Royal Marines Association (RMA) and their families as this was the 70th anniversary for them so there was a lot going on at camp. The Troop had some much needed motivation from being watched as we had been hanging out since we got back from France. Afterwards we thinned out at around lunchtime and were able to mingle with the veterans and their families.
- The RMA on Sunday had a huge celebratory parade on the drill square involving many bodies of the RMA themselves and 3 troops of CTC including 229 Troop (Week 2), 225 Troop (Week 14), 219 Troop (Week 28). The parade went on for 3 hours and involved about 2000 people of all ranks. After this it was a quick bit of scran before heading off into Exeter to do a spot of shopping as us nods love doing.
225 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 15.
- 225 Troop’s morale was high coming off the back of Ex BAPTIST RUN (too high…) and it suddenly came crashing down as we failed an inspection in the morning, we knew the Training Team would have several methods of ‘teaching’ us how to improve our admin…they definitely did! Fortunately I didn’t like the view from my room anyway so our room changes were actually a benefit! The day continued with a trip down to the bottom field which consisted of a gentle circuit (as gentle as a rope and assault course circuit can be!) that definitely challenged every member of the Troop, proven by a few lads failing the regain and taking a dip in the ‘ogin’ to cool off! After bottom field we went into CBRN and learned about the decontamination drill. The day then progressed the ‘fun stuff’ with a lecture on section battle procedures and harbour drills, this is the soldiering side of life that we all want to do and become good at.
- On Tuesday reveille was at 0500hrs in order to make amends on our inspection from the day before, however we failed yet again which meant another room change and a return to my not so nice view! Then we had siganls lectures where we learnt about 354 radios, but our day was broken up after that as most of the troop had dentist appointment, for some members of the Troop this was probably more painful than any session on the Bottom Field! We ended the day with lectures on section formations and patrolling which we are completely new to so was really interesting.
- Wednesday started off as the same the previous day reveille 0500hrs; cleaning, fresh Wednesday beds and a first detail at 0700hrs for a full locker inspection and accommodation inspection to try and rectify the previous day’s misfortunes. Yet another failure but we were getting closer to the standard required….we hope! After we had been given work on points for the failed inspection, we moved onto our first lecture of the day starting with battle procedures, followed by military law covering law of armed conflict, use of force and captured persons with a test on all the above to show what we had learned. After lunch we had some more captured persons lectures and additional lectures that would become relevant during next week’s exercise in week 16.
- Thursday reveille at the usual time at 0500hrs to commence accommodation cleaning before moving over to the armoury for weapons collection for two hours of drill, recapping weapons drill after a brief inspection of our drill rig. Later on we had a hasty quick change and ready outside for an hours swimming fitness. Straight after this we had 2 hours of recce patrol lectures introducing us to the aspects of training that we would encounter during Phase Two of training. After lunch we proceeded to more lectures on other types of patrols e.g. standing, fighting and stand by patrols. This concluded the troop for the day apart from another round of room changes and inspections the following day. This squared the troop away for the evening until a kit muster ready for 0700 inspection on the Friday, we were determined to pass and prove we were of the standard required to enter Phase 2 of Recruit Training.
- Friday saw the troop waking up earlier than normal in order to get as much of a start as we could before our final inspection of the Week, we knew we had to pass it to be allowed a long weekend leave (it was definitely going to be needed!). From there we progressed onto more lectures as well as conducting a small ceremony to mark our progression into Phase 2 of Recruit Training, it can only get better (or worse depending how you view things!) from here!