We all stared at the normal things like shops, women and pubs…

The fifth week of Basic Training in the British Army for Soldier under Training (SuT) Alastair Byrne has resulted in his first look at the civilian world in a month and an “admin nightmare” caused by a missing pencil!

SuT Byrne

SuT Byrne

I passed the Weapon Handling Test, so will be able to take part in live firing on the ranges.  We had a swimming lesson in the afternoon and some of the guys were talking in the changing area so were sent on a run around the block – not a nice thing to have to do after a tough swimming session. We managed to go on the dismounted close combat trainer (DCCT – an electronic range) as a Troop, which let us put into practice all the drills we have been taught so far.

The next day we were back on the ranges, and I had an admin nightmare. I didn’t clip my helmet on properly and secondly, I forgot to bring a pencil! The result of this was me running around the block with all my equipment on. I got some funny looks from the other Troops!

On Thursday, we had our first live firing day, and it was amazing. It was very-nerve racking to start with, as you don’t want to make a mistake with real ammunition.  After firing a few rounds, I started to concentrate more and ended up getting some nice grouping sizes.  As the range was outside camp, we went on a bus. It was strange to see the civilian world after a month of combats and marching.  We all stared at the normal things like shops, women and pubs…

On Saturday, we all went out on our Troop activity day – go-karting. We all loved it.  It was a great morning where we could relax, but still compete for a place on the podium.  The Troop Commander and other Training Team staff joined us after a “Medieval Night” in the Sergeants’ Mess, so were looking a bit worse for wear.  After some tough laps and some dangerous driving, the results were as follows: Corporal Field and Corporal Pacey came second with Corporal Swanick and Captain Climpson  first.  They said it was down to their skill, which in part may be true, but we put it down to them having a smaller team, resulting in less driver changes.

To end the week, we had a masterclass from one of the Corporals in how to shine our boots for the Troop Commander’s inspection.

4 thoughts on “We all stared at the normal things like shops, women and pubs…

  1. Keep up with it mate.

    If you had joined in the ’80’s you’d have been stood there watching while the rest of your squad ran round the block wearing nothing but a messtin and a shoelace, and carrying all their equipment above their heads. When they’d have finished that beasting, you’d have been beaten by your instructors, and afterwards by the rest of your squad.

    All good character building stuff that makes a soldier a soldier! ;o)


  2. Tim
    My grandfather who trained at the infamous ‘Bull Ring’ at Etaples in 1917 would have laughed at the luxury you soldiers in the 1980’s had to ‘endure’. Your barracks would have been a palace compared to his trench.
    Times move on though, and the appalling number of recruits who died during training during the latter part of the 20th Century came to the attention of the wider public. Particularly after Deepcut, people were questioning why recruits, who were prepared to risk their lives for their country, were dying in mysterious circumstances before they’d even come into contact with an enemy?
    As a consequence, attitudes changed in the Army. Nowadays you can’t become a trainer purely because you’re a sadist. The Army expects more of its officers, trainers and soldiers and as a result the Army is now held in greater esteem than in previous times.
    Life is still very demanding during basic training but the type of treatment soldiers endured during your day and before that, is thankfully a thing of the past.


  3. haha. I remember Deepcut and that enquiry – I was in Aldershot at the time. Any I don’t envy your grandfathers days, or mines.

    Yes, I agree times move on – look at the two Iraq wars as a blinding example of what a difference just 12 years makes. I would say it is an improvement though. Maybe in procedure and ‘political correctness’, but certainly not in efficiency, and I’ve no doubt our grandfathers would probably say the same.

    Whilst I disagree with bullying – a bit of a beasting in training is what turns a young lad into a switched on soldier his buddies can rely on.

    Unfortunately also the school leaver isn’t today what he was in the “old days” either. In the old days he was fit and obedient throughout childhood and if not got the cane to bring him into line.

    Physical fitness is another thing – take P Coy going from 2 1/2 weeks into a complete six week course as an example. Where as in the old days there were no shortage of fit recruits and backsquadding until acceptable standards were achieved was totally normal in the training process. All to often now this is ignored somewhat, and then past on as a responsibility to the unit – I worked in a recruit depot gym, so I know it certainly happens, even before I got out.

    Consistent defence cuts and numbers also plays a crucial part in ‘our’ effectiveness – luckily also the modern theatre of war is entirely different too, and weapon/equipment technology seems to be overtaking soldiering skills too.

    Anyway, I was only having a little tounge in cheek humour with the lad – it’s the way it works. lol. ;o)


  4. Hi Ali well after a month nice to see there is still a lot of Ali still there!Sounds as if you are still really keen on this army thing. Keep going only another 9 years or so to go!!! Ella


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