Here’s Junior Soldier Bradnam’s blog from the Army Technical Foundation College, Winchester, about the final week of training before the Christmas break.
On Monday we were straight back into training after our week in Crowborough. Week 6 is the week in which the drill test takes place, so we concentrated on it every day and practised for hours. At first we were all a bit rusty after a week away, however the wrinkles were soon being smoothed out and the troop were beginning to come together. It looked as though we might stand a chance of passing the test, although the change step was creating a significant problem, as we could not get the timings correct, and we were going out of step. So extra practise was scheduled – in addition to ironing kit and bulling shoes until they were immaculate!
As well as drill we still had other military subjects still to cover. Physical training was on the agenda, as was the Battlefield Casualty Drill (BCD) test, which took place on Wednesday afternoon. Mock casualties were set up and we had to treat them correctly in order to pass the test. It was quite realistic as the casualties were dressed up and covered in fake blood to add realism. Most people passed first time and only a couple of people had to be re-tested.
The week also brought upon us the Troop Commander and Officer Commanding’s (OC) inspection. This is where the Troop Commander inspects the block and our lockers thoroughly, and the Officer Commanding inspects again the next day. The block and lockers had to be perfect. Sleep was limited before the inspections because everyone wanted to get their lockers up to the best standard and pass the inspection. Luckily everyone did!
Although the pace was unbelievably fast and the expectations great, every single recruit was in high spirits as the 2-week leave period loomed. We had lessons on drug awareness and how to uphold the Army’s reputation whilst we were on leave.
Wednesday night was the eve of the drill test – and the Regimental Christmas dinner! The OC gave his brief at the beginning of the meal and it was at this stage that he announced that the drill test had been postponed, and we were all going on leave a day early as a severe weather warning had come in. We all had to get away before the weather came, so we were not stuck in Winchester! For some people this news was a relief, but for some it was an anti-climax as the anticipation had grown and everyone had psyched themselves up for it. Though as soon as the dinner was served and the Band of the Rifles started playing, everyone settled into the mood of the evening!
In what seemed like no time we were all packed and ready to go. It seemed like only yesterday that we were walking through the gates for the first time. The 6 weeks that have passed have been the hardest and most varied of our lives, yet everyone has made it through and we are all now well on our way on the journey from civilian to soldier.