Numerous sick chits were awarded to the bloody-minded

Officer Cadet Elizabeth Eldridge is in her first term at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (RMAS). In her latest blog she recounts her experience of Exercise LONG REACH in the Welsh mountains.

Officer Cadet Elizabeth Eldridge

Officer Cadet Elizabeth Eldridge

The Black Mountains in Wales have been traversed by Commissioning Course 103. Each cadet was loaded with a weighty bergen (rucksack), rations for 24 hours and soon-to-be-careworn Army-issue black boots. The routes ranged between 60 and 70km. Shuffling, striding and eventually trudging we climbed lofty and fell down forest ridden ridges. The endeavour was broken by kit inspections and command tasks at check points manned by the Academy Directing Staff. After walking for 20 hours there is something faintly amusing about a section of seven, blistered and hurt, tidying hair and polishing boots in a concealed area before joyously marching into a check point to demonstrate morale and good order.

The section is then set a task. A water crossing, a chequered board puzzle, a cryptic maths problem or a minefield which has to be crossed are just a few examples of the tasks which were designed to test the exhausted yet determined cadets.

It was impossible fun. Staff Sergeant Hardy told the Platoon in the first week that the army would impose a dark humour upon us; we laughed loud and sang out of tune.

LONG REACH is a competition with the hallowed goal of a finish time under 24 hours. One team finished in 22 hours and 3 minutes; the section comprised heroines. The first in, fastest team but eventual losers on points were call sign ALPHA TWO ZERO ALPHA. Their method? Not to contour round peaks and troughs but straight up steep re-entrants and back down. Officer Cadet Lane in A20A began Long Reach with blisters so infected that walking brought tears to her eyes. At one check point she fainted from the pain. A few did not complete the exercise and had to resign to one of the ambulances the Directing Staff provided. OCdt Lane was not one of them.

The day after Long Reach, back at the Academy, the cadets hobble everywhere. Numerous sick chits were awarded to the bloody minded, those who walked on infected blisters, sprained knees and ripped tendons. I did not get a blister; a wretched disappointment.

19 thoughts on “Numerous sick chits were awarded to the bloody-minded

  1. You and the other Officer Cadets are achieving so much…I am supporting you all!! I live in Wales nr the Brecon beacons so i do know of the terrain…A Massive pat-on-the-back!!!!!! Well Done……Keep Up The Good Work…!!!!

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  2. Good times, I remember them well, 23hrs 17mins for my section.
    I imagine there are now lots of Officer Cadets cutting around the Academy with fabloned biff chits?
    I visited a team of soldiers this morning that were starting a tab from Cardiff to London. Can you imagine instead of getting the bus back from Brecon to Sandhurst it was a tab instead?
    http://www.jamebanksdefence.wordpress.com

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  3. keep trying to smile and laugh it off spent a good few weeks their in the mid seventys, bet its rained their every day since! keep your feet dry (if possible)

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  4. My brother is in this intake, 3 Platoon Alamein Company. He was in the winning team. Well done to everyone who made it and good luck in training!

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  5. We live on the Crowthorne/Sandhurst border and often hear the officer cadets doing their day/night battle training, and having a lad in the Grenadier Guards and friends who work at the RMA it is with pride that I can say I support our future army officers whole heartedly , we often go to the Heritage day at sandhurst in september and its great to hear from the cadets themselves on the blog…Good Luck and keep up the good work..

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  6. What ever next for our intrepid officer recruits? Two days in the rain on some real mountains without medical support?

    Maybe a spade and some real work!

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    • Sarcasm and nastiness isn’t what these young people need or deserve when they are still only at the very beginning of their military training. It serves no purpose to belittle their impressive achievement. God speed, boys and girls!

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      • Well said, Bella. There is a need for encouragement, these young men and women are going to be getting in some muck sometime and they need to know they are doing a good job, and there are those back home that are waiting and thankful for their service. I know I have been there!!!!!

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    • Hi Tim
      as an ex squiddie i did all my training over and around the Brecon Beacons, so now i ask you have you done any form of military training?, if not then before you shoot your mouth off try “humping” over the Beacons CARRYING 80+ ilbs in all weathers then after a night on the mountains without any cover or food.

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  7. Rick.

    Know the area well spent many years yomping over that whilst in training and in the Army…nothing like a 40lb bergan on your back….gale force winds….soaked to the skin..hungry..tired…cold and miserable…and everyt time you think you have reached the top of the black mountains theres another bloody hill….ahh such memories…but the best thing is the cameraderie as you are all in the same boat..and the fantastic sense of acheivement when you finaly reach the end and say “I Did that”….enjoy every moment of your service career you will never regret it…..

    Regards Rick

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  8. reminds me when i did the Lyke Wake Walk….blistered feet…. but you remember things like that for the rest of your life…. and brilliant picture, oh to be outdoors!!!!!!hope youre going to keep on blogging…. waiting for Ironing 2..the sequel…..hope i havent missed it…excellent!

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  9. I remember my son attempting this with a strapped achilles tendon. He got about 3 parts of the way round before being pulled out, but went on to get his commission watched by his very proud family.
    He’s now a Major and working in Afghanistan doing one of the most dangerous of jobs on the ground there. He and his team risk their lives on a daily basis, and we’re very proud of them all.
    New recruits are the lifeblood of our armed forces, and we should support them to the hilt.
    Well done to all our present and future armed forces personnell.
    Keep safe and do a good job!

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  10. Well done!, a lot of people, (civilians) don’t understand the exercises that goes on in an FTX, Field Training Exercise. The polishing of boots and squaring away of your person is a good exercise in self appearance that is becoming of one of Her Majesty’s Officers. All I can say is, learn well, lead well and your individual accomplishments will speak well of you .

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  11. My youngest son did all this a few years back, he is now a Captain, and would not change anything.

    I guess it’s almost impossible for you to imagine that you’ll look back with fond affection at your time in Sandhurst. But by all accounts that’s exactly what you will do. Good Luck.

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  12. Thank you for the blog – it is interesting to read it from the female perspective .I am very proud to have a son on the same commisioning course and I hear how he is coping with the training – I wish all the officer cadets good luck with the course – and I will be there on the 11th August to see you all commissioned and I am very proud of you all – you are the future of the British Army
    I look forward to reading more from you x

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  13. This is an interesting “blog” as are the comments. Having “done Brecon” on occasion myself during my service, I am well aware of the qualities needed of those who “serve to lead”, and for whom this is possibly the first time they discover just how much they are capable of doing, both as an individual, and as part of a team. I was very impressed by the results produced by the female teams on this exercise, and wish them similar success as they progress.

    We am also very proud that both our children have chosen this path, with my son following me into commissioning my old Regiment, and now my daughter in the same intake as Miss Eldridge. I am also very proud of my (fairly new) daughter-in-law, who is currently serving abroad in a fairly active role.

    Yes, they met at RMAS…

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