Soldier under Training (SuT) Jamie Davies blogs from ATC Pirbright about his fifth week of Basic Training with the British Army. He’s been busy, with fittings for uniform, more intense physical training and his first overnight exercise including a “stand to” at 2.30am!
We started the fifth week with Basic Skills. I really enjoy these lessons, because they’re interesting learning. Although many people don’t realise it, education is a huge part of the Army.
We have had another endurance run this week as well. It was probably the hardest one so far because it was the longest and the most hilly – a tiring combination. I do feel quite good after the endurance runs though – sleepy, but fulfilled! After the run I had my Number 2 uniform fitted, which is the one we will wear for Passing Out in 9 weeks.
On Tuesday we had swimming first thing followed by kit issue for Exercise FIRST NIGHTS. The swimming we do here is a bit different to the swimming I’m used to, it’s far from relaxing. Part of the session involves getting out and doing press-ups and sit-ups at the side of the pool!
On Tuesday afternoon we set off for the exercise. I absolutely loved it. Being awake on stag when the rest of your section is sleeping is bizarrely exciting and living out in the wild is different to anything I have ever done before. It was quite physically demanding out there. The best way to make life more comfortable is to prepare kit thoroughly before deploying. Over the exercise we were shown how to dig shell scrapes, but because of daylight we only dug 2 shell scrapes per Section. That was tiring enough! I was on sentry from 2100-2200 (9pm-10pm) and 0230-0330. (2.30am-3.30am). Both duties went really fast and I enjoyed them. On one of the nights at 0230 the Troop Commander called ‘stand to’ – this means that everyone has to pack away their kit as fast as they can because there might be an enemy threat. Once she was happy that there was no threat, everyone (apart from those on sentry) unpacked their kit and went back to sleep.
We learnt loads whilst deployed; how to cook in the field, when you can and can’t smoke, how your eyes work at night, fire and movement, camouflage and concealmet… the list goes on and on! I had meatballs and pasta for my first meal and it was OK, despite the horror stories you hear! In the morning we had to shave, wash, pack our kit away and clean our rifles, all in 1hr 20 min. It seems like a long time, but it isn’t! On our last day the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel T A S Hill MBE SCOTS came and had a chat with us as we completed our morning routine. He is really nice and easy to talk to.
The last part of the exercise was a tab (march with bergens) back to camp. It wasn’t that hard, but some people struggled a bit. All I can say is always be disciplined, and that the “buddy buddy” system (helping each other out) never fails.