We arrived at CTCRM on Monday the 19th of September; a lot of us travelled from London together which helped ease the nerves, right up to the point in which we stepped of the train onto the platform at Lympstone, it’s a feeling I will never forget yet it is impossible to explain, it was more than terrifying. There was an eerie silence amongst the 42 young men on the platform as we waited for our DL to come and collect us. This was soon wiped out when he had us sprinting in full suits, shoes and some of us carrying up to 3 or 4 bags. The 1st night was fairly easy not too much happened we just spent the time getting to know each other.
Tuesday morning is when all hell broke loose, the transition from being a civilian to a Royal Marine recruit was instant, we woke up at 0530 straight in the shower, straight to the galley to eat and back to the accommodation to clean, everything had to be done at 100mph, we were told that there are 2 speeds at Lympstone, 100mph or completely still.
We were given very strict time lines and told that they must be stuck too, inevitably we were 5 minutes late to a detail, we were told by our DL that he would get his time back and he wasn’t joking, On Wednesday he burst through the door shouting at us to get out of bed and for 20 minutes had us in the middle of the room doing all kinds of different exercises. Finally we were allowed to get back in bed after getting a quick shower, but at the back of all of our minds was the fact that we would be getting up in a few hours again to start the day. On the same day we had all of our kit issued, this was the start of 3 nights with next to no sleep as everything had to be ironed and A4’d for inspection. Plus if it wasn’t to standard then it would be pulled out and would need re washing ironing and folding again for the inspection the next morning.
The 2nd week was full of more inspections and the exercises got a lot more intense. The amount of things that we had to keep up on top of was almost overwhelming at times, and in the back of our minds loomed the final inspection of foundation which landed on the Friday, as you can imagine Thursday was another sleepless night making sure that we had everything perfect and ready to go ready for the morning.
The final inspection was under taken by our Colour Sergeant and DL which was nerve racking to say the least as we knew that if we failed then we would have to re do foundation and all of us couldn’t wait to get out of there. All things considered the inspection went fairly well, there were no major pick up points and the Colour Sergeant and the Cpl were both happy with our progress, so we were given the go ahead to move out of the foundation block and into our permanent one.
230TP Week 3
Moving away from home is usually a huge deal for most people, especially when they are young! Imagine that feeling but combined with the intensity of a disciplined Drill Leader and 40 eager men. That is how week 3 of Royal Marines recruit training started.
We had passed our final criteria inspection on the Friday, and after a laid back Saturday in town, we were all more than ready to begin the latest transition in our journeys to become Royal Marine Commandos on the Sunday. After a few cleaning and timing based hindrances, we were all moved in and prepping for a Monday inspection by the time Sunday evening came about; something our previous two weeks of admin domination had trained us for.
Although all of our inspections this week haven’t yet met the high standards that are required of us, morale has still been somewhat high. It must be the lack of hot corporal breath on the back of our necks; either that or the fact that we finally got to do some in depth soldiering in the form of rifle drills. Aside from the content shooting up in interest, pun intended, at the lectures this week, our fitness lessons and swimming has also ramped up furiously. We have seen the swimming expectations as well as being treated to a confidence test and intense swimming circuits. These circuits remind us all how arduous, and wet, this training is going to get, yet still filling every single man with the motivation and aggression needed to meet the bar.
On my final note, before yet another extreme week begins and I see to my personal pile of admin, I ask you to think about whether you could fall backwards, from a height, head first into a body of water? It is these thoughts and questions that each Recruit in this troop has the state of mind to think about and still wake up in the morning and be 100% willing to do whatever is required of him to make it to the end of the next evolution.
Week Four, Troop 230
We’re finally out of foundation and have lost the bright orange lumi tabs that distinguished us as such. With this we now have more responsibilities and more accountability for our actions and our mistakes.
The dominating event of this week was our first ‘proper’ exercise. As opposed to Ex. EARLY NIGHT in week two, Ex FIRST STEP was a more comprehensive introduction into life in the field. More as a teaching experience than a field exercise, these 24 hours within Woodbury Common consisted of lectures such as; how to prepare your rations, maintaining kit and the proper way to wash yourself in the field, all within the most basic of tactical behaviour. During this exercise sentries were introduced, with each recruit taking two, one hour long shifts throughout the night and morning. While there was no active enemy to watch out for, we all gained a higher level of respect for members of the training team. What started off as overt distractions and obvious movement in the evening led to the Corporals, Troop Sergeant and Troop Commander covertly moving round the camp, relieving us of our unsecure kit and testing the sentries’ abilities. One memory that will stick with me was when I was taking position for my second sentry and Corporal Forbes had advanced to only 3 feet from the current recruits positioned there, only making himself known when he spoke. This server as a reminder of the skill and professionalism that we here as recruits are striving for through training and that is already possessed by those instructing us. The introduction of morning routines and kit musters within the field was an eye opener. Throughout training so far we have had the principles of timing and time keeping hammered into us, though it would be easy to say that so far little of that has sunk in with many. On Wednesday, while out in Woodbury Common, we were given one and a half hours for breakfast, washing, shaving, changing, packing kit and laying out a kit muster for inspection, 30 minutes longer than we will be given in later exercises. That being said, only four recruits of the troop managed to meet the required standard. In order to hold the troop accountable for this poor time management shown by the rest of the recruits, our privilege of shore leave on Sunday has been revoked to make room for a re-teach and demonstration of kit musters by our training staff, however this additional training will only benefit the troop in the long run.
Regarding the rest of the training this week, the troop is making slow progress. Within PT sessions our technique and knowledge of required movements is improving, but as a result of fatigue and not enough rest we are failing to maintain the strict discipline required. But hey, who said this would be easy. It might seem harsh to punish recruits for scratching or wiping away sweat, but in these early phases we as a troop still need to remove our civilian mind-set and install greater military discipline. Next week we have a longer exercise along with final preparations for families’ day on the Friday. I think it’s the long weekend with our families and friends that is driving many through training at the moment. Of course all our end goals are to earn the coveted Green Beret at the end of 32 weeks training, but enjoying such little things as time away is what keeps our moral high.