I couldn’t breathe or anything

Here’s Junior Soldier (JS) Field’s account of his 13th week at the Army Technical Foundation College, Winchester.

JS Field, in the field

JS Field, in the field

This has been a busy week.

On Monday we went to the ranges to conduct a fire and manoeuvre  shoot.  It was quite exhausting having to run 300m with  webbing, helmet, body armour and rifle before carrying out a section fire and manoeuvre test. I passed the shoot which was the main thing but it did show how tiring it can be running with everything.

Tuesday was a steady day in camp. We had a PT (physical training) session where we did a steady state 5 mile run.  Then we continued with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) lessons which this time took us in to the respirator test facility. I was dreading this and wasn’t too keen on the idea of being exposed to CS gas.  We marched down there in our CBRN kit and there were many bad thoughts going through my mind.  When we got there, we formed up in a circle and were briefed on what was going to happen.  We were then split down into our Sections and went through the procedure one at a time.  Being 3 Section, we were the last through – which meant we watched the other Sections coming out coughing their guts up and it made me dread it even more.  Finally our Section went through, and once inside the room, filled with CS gas, we removed our respirators.  As soon as I removed mine my face started burning, along with my throat, my eyes, my nose and my mouth.  I couldn’t breathe or anything. It was a horrendous experience, the worst experience since joining ATFC Winchester – but it made me realise how important the drills are, if there was a CBRN attack.  I came out of the chamber coughing like crazy, like everyone else in the Troop.  After it was finished I was so happy it was over, and we all had a good laugh about it afterwards.

On  Wednesday we deployed on Exercise HALFWAY.  This exercise was a little bit different from the last. Instead of travelling by coach we went by Merlin Helicopter! I was buzzing to find out we would be flying to the exercise location. After a quick safety brief we were split down into smaller groups were we were briefed on different aspects of the helicopter.  Once it came to our turn to go I was even more excited.  We ran on to the helicopter and it lifted off, it was awesome and one of the most exciting things I have done since being here.

At the training area we got straight on with the exercise.  We had various lessons through the rest of the week. They included fire and manoeuvre, where you engage the enemy to destroy them.  We also had lessons on breaking down the ground and judging distances so that we can determine how far away the enemy are.  The exercise lasted for 4 days and 3 nights and it turned out to be good!  The weather was kind and we did some pretty interesting stuff.

Next week we have the Commanding Officer’s  inspection which means a few late nights of preparation.  We just want to get it over and done with.  We are also going over to France on a “Realities of War” trip, which I am really looking forward to.

This week has been really good, except for CS gas, but that was an experience.  The  Merlin was the best thing so far!

2 thoughts on “I couldn’t breathe or anything

  1. Hey Mr

    Well it seems like you’re having an action packed time!!! CS Gas, mad dashes, guns…it sounds like a normal night in Salford!?!?! Only joking and glad to hear everything is going good and you’re enjoying yourself.

    Everything’s fine up here in Manchester, although really could do with a holiday. France sounds like it will be fun. Will you get a chance to do a bit of sightseeing or is it going to be all work? What’s your french like these days!?

    Anyway, when you’re not too busy leaping out of helicoptors give us a call.

    Look after yourself, have fun and keep up the good work.



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