Soldier under Training (SuT) Alastair Byrne is at the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, undergoing Phase 1 training. In his latest blog he writes about a busy week in which his Troop has been out on exercise.
Monday started with another question and answer session about our time at Pirbright so far, and finished with preparing kit before our first exercise on Tuesday. We had to make sure that all of our equipment was waterproof and everything was packed in the correct place in our bergens. Tuesday morning was spent solely carrying out the final preparations for a kit inspection.
In the afternoon, we set off to the exercise area, learning how to patrol along the way; this included hand signals and how to move as a Troop. On arrival, we were then taught how to move into and secure an area.
In the evening, we dug out our trenches that were to be used for night guard and organised what times we would be on ‘stag’ throughout the night. I picked the short straw and ended up doing the 3am until 4am shift. It was all going fine until it started raining; I had to lie there with water dripping off my helmet with the soil turning to mud – I found it quite testing!
Throughout day two of the exercise, we learnt concealment techniques, how to fire and move towards the enemy and many other interesting lessons, which lifted morale after a wet start. That night, we were attacked by the enemy; the smoke and explosions ensured that I was up quickly and prepared to defend our site.
On the final day, we had our last inspection where the Commanding Officer came round to visit us before tabbing back into camp, quite tired and muddy. That night was a busy one having to clean all of our dirty equipment, which caused mayhem.
Friday started our Realities of War weekend and proved to be quite interesting as we had some soldiers from the Royal Anglians – who have just got back from Afghanistan – come down to give us a talk on their time out there before some lessons on D-Day and WWII. This was followed by a visit to Portsmouth to look around the Royal Marines Museum, the D-Day museum and the Armouries – a welcome chance to leave Pirbright for the day.
Sunday involved going to Brookwood War Cemetery. It was a good chance to pay our respects and remember the dead. This concluded a hectic and eventful week. All we wanted to do was get a good night’s sleep… but there was plenty of ironing to do!