In his latest blog from the Army Training Centre Pirbright, Soldier under Training (SuT) Alastair Byrne recalls a fretful time leading up to going home for the first time in seven weeks.
Monday started with an inspection – the first in a long line of inspections leading up to our long weekend off. We were told that if the standard of turn out was not good enough, then we wouldn’t be going on our long weekend – so the pressure was on!
We were all on edge as he walked around the rooms searching for dust. I saw him inspecting one of the guys’ bed spaces and he climbed up on the bed to gain some height in his pursuit. Plug sockets and light fittings were also being checked! So I knew my inspection may not go well as I had not cleaned mine. I was picked up for a lot of dust and a pebble still in my boot – not good! That afternoon we had our drill test; only two failed on the first attempt and they passed on their re-test so we can now wear our Corps berets and cap badges from Thursday onwards.
On Tuesday we had our second inspection with the Squadron Sergeant Major. From Monday’s experience, we all double checked everything imaginable – plug sockets, radiators, curtain fittings etc… and plenty of Febreeze! There was a debate in my Section about this because we were certain they wouldn’t inspect the smell, but in the end we thought a good first impression would do the trick. It didn’t. I ended up getting pulled up for an incorrectly ironed shirt and rust inside my magazine. So ended up at the guard room for a punishment! As a Section, it wasn’t going well; the constant worry of not being allowed to go home was stressing us out.
Thursday was the Squadron Commander’s Inspection, but since he was away, one of the Captains came around (with a huge entourage) ready to inspect. We were all stood firmly to attention whilst approximately six people searched high and low to catch us out. It isn’t the most pleasant experience. It only then got worse when they started to ask us questions on personalities and topics we’ve been taught. Because of nerves, it was hard to find the right words to express ourselves correctly. We all passed in the end though and after seven long weeks, we knew we would be going home. It couldn’t come soon enough.
Later on that day, many of our parents arrived for the Families Day event. It was a chance for our parents to come and look around the camp and meet some of our Staff before taking us away for a hard earned rest. Over the weekend, I had to remind myself not to swing my arms at shoulder height. It was great to see all my family and friends (and the pub!), but I am looking forward to getting back now and getting the remainder of the course over with.