Pegasus Company (“P Company”) is a gruelling training course which must be completed by all soldiers and officers joining The Parachute Regiment. It is attempted by soldiers on completion of their Phase 2 Training (Combat Infantryman’s Course) and by officers on graduation from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The course takes place over 3 weeks at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick (ITC Catterick).
The P Company mission is to test the physical fitness, determination and mental robustness, under conditions of stress, to determine whether an individual has the self discipline and motivation required for service with the Airborne Forces.
Second Lieutenant Sam Westlake, a recent graduate from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst who commissioned into The Parachute Regiment, is currently at Catterick Garrison undertaking this course. He’ll be blogging each day with details of his experiences and performance…
The first day of P Company is a screening day designed to identify those who have the minimum level of fitness required to attempt the arduous course ahead. 51 of us arrived at the P Company lines at ITC Catterick varying in cap badge, size, age and rank. We all had one thing in common, though – we were wearing “Noddy” hats. I suspect there was some Soviet influence in the design of the Noddy hat. Whoever designed them, the intention was clear – to degrade the wearer!
The first assessment of the day was an 8-mile tab (loaded march) in 2 hours. It started quickly with some doubles downhill but soon settled down into an easy pace. From what I could see, no-one struggled. The squad was structured with junior ranks at the front, seniors in the middle and what seems to be a large pack of officers at the rear.
Part 2 of screening was the Trainasium. Imagine an adult climbing frame that tests one’s ability to carry out basic tasks at height. The ‘shuffle bars’ were the hardest part of the Trainasium – 2 scaffolding poles approximately 30 feet above the ground. The task is in the name. The rest of the circuit is closer to the ground and involves an illusion jump and a Superman-style dive into a cargo net. We lost 4 men to the Trainasium, all falling victim to the shuffle bars. The trick is to look at your feet or the bars, keep moving steadily and don’t stall.
The final stage of screening is the 1.5 mile best effort run, which has to be completed in under 9 minutes 30 seconds. It’s a difficult course compared with many and, when combined with the tab in the morning, one can expect to come in 30-45 seconds slower than usual. My personal experience of this run was an eventful one. I intended coming in at around 9 minutes. To do this I would need a strong start – my plan was to burst off the start line and run around the outside of the pack, avoid the tangled panic and cruise around the course to a victorious finish. Unfortunately, no plan survives first contact with the enemy and I swiftly found myself in boggy ground. At first I did not notice that my right shoe had come off. The laughing from those in the Land Rover brought this error to my attention and by the time it was back on my sodden foot I had some catching up to do! I am still here, however, so I must have made it round in time.
We lost a further 5 men to the run making a total of 9 down for the day. The 42 that remained were given a P Company style welcome. I won’t go in to details, but what I will say is: “it pays to be a winner.”