Soldier under Training (SuT) Alastair Byrne writes from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright about his final week of Phase 1 Training. It’s all over – but how did the all-important Pass Off parade go?
Our last week at the Army Training Centre, Pirbright!
On Monday morning we started to hand in our exercise kit. It was good to start getting rid of things from our lockers as it meant we were closer to passing out. In the afternoon we went orienteering – a relaxing day and a good way to start the week.
On Tuesday we started to practise rifle drill, to prepare us for the Pass Off parade on Friday. I was a bit worried as doing foot drill is fine, but when a rifle is introduced, it causes problems. A few people dropped their rifles during some of the drills and this didn’t bode well for the parade! In the afternoon we played indoor hockey. Unfortunately 2 Section didn’t win and we had to make do with second place. It was very strange being in the gym and not having press-ups constantly given to you by the staff. That evening we went down to the WRVS and played pool and all reminisced about our experiences whilst training.
Wednesday was mostly spent conducting rifle drill. We were getting a little better but there were still some major flaws to be ironed out in time for the parade. We all went to bed knowing that it was only two days from passing out.
On Thursday we had a big drill day. The Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) came to see us do some drill. I don’t think he was very impressed to start with but we quickly managed to get in line and do the movements in time with each other. Throughout the week we were told that none of us were safe and it was still possible to get back trooped to another week. Five people in total had been back trooped in week 14 alone for various reasons, so it was a case of worrying and making sure we didn’t make a mess of anything. We all had our hair cut asked other recruits which weeks they were in. This was quickly followed by us asking “what you up to on Friday then?” They didn’t seem impressed! We had it done to us for 14 weeks so it only seemed fair! On Thursday night we cleaned the block and made sure there was no loose ends before packing all of our kit ready to move on to Phase 2 Training.
Friday morning eventually came around. I don’t think it kicked in that we would actually be leaving. Thankfully the Pass Out parade went really well and we all stood on the square feeling proud of what we had achieved. On the first day we arrived here we were told that our time in Pirbright would fly by. It certainly did. But every time I think about how much we have done it reminds me that it wasn’t easy. Passing out made everything worthwhile though! My Phase 2 Training in Blandford doesn’t start for another month, so that allows me time to recover and keep up on the fitness. No more locker inspections, timings and early mornings for another month – this couldn’t have come sooner. I think I will miss the busy days though and the routine that I have got used to.
I would recommend Phase 1 Training to anyone who wants to see how much they can push themselves. It’s demanding, but a great way to get to know yourself better and see exactly what you’re capable of – and see if you are able to cope when you’re out of your comfort zone.
Our thanks to Private Alastair Byrne for blogging through Phase 1 Training.