8(ish) miles of pure pain

2Lt Sam Westlake

2Lt Sam Westlake

Second Lieutenant Sam Westlake writes again from the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, with more news of his progress through P Company. It’s been a day of ups and downs – you’ll soon understand what we mean…

Alongside “The Log”, “The Land of Nod” is what everyone thinks of when they think of P Company.  This tab is – as the sign above the armoury door helpfully reminds you – “8(ish) miles of pure pain”.  For me the first 2 were the worst.  After Tuesday’s mileage my body was not up for another beasting, but like many of the tabs during the beat-up weeks it’s just a case of warming up and settling in to the pace.  After 6 miles or so we approached the familiar basin in the middle of the training area and I knew what was coming.  The pack closed up, went quiet and took in the steep hills ahead.

As we crossed the cattle grid in to the basin, hills now either side of us, I psyched myself up for the challenge.  I thought: “this is a rite of passage, something you’ve thought about on every hill since Sandhurst, so give it everything.”  We were led up and down, up and down.  As is customary, the OC took the Officers for an adventure on the steepest side for a period.  Those who had the confidence to run down the hill did best, while those who didn’t fell behind.

On rejoining the junior ranks, the focus shifted to motivating others.  The stronger officers did their job and got men round, encouraging them when they needed it.  We were taken up and down like a washing machine cycle! I won’t say how many times, but if you’ve made it this far on the course and you’re determined, it’s achievable. There are water stops every five reps.  There are 4 water stops…

Don’t worry about Thursday afternoon, your legs will get a rest.  The staff kindly set up an upper-body session in the gym.  It was pretty horrific – press-ups, burpees, alternate squat-thrusts, sit-ups, the usual stuff and actually come to think of it there was some running.  There was also an introduction to milling.  Milling is an event on the Friday of Test Week.  Imagine boxing with less tactics and rest and more “controlled” aggression.  On this occasion our opponent was an upright crash mat but it did provide an opportunity to weigh-up potential opponents.  It seems the men in my weight category are quite good.

8 thoughts on “8(ish) miles of pure pain

  1. Sam, greetings from an oldie.

    I recall P Company well, as will all who attended it, as a period of constant strain and effort. Still, and for all of that, I would not have missed it for the world.

    My sincere best wishes to yourself and the lads.



  2. Well done I would of never been able to do that I’m glad I didn’t join in the end lol keep up the good work you all do an amazing job x


  3. Hi,

    I know that as a Parachute Regiment Recruit you wear a green backing behind the capbadge to show you haven’t passed P Company yet!

    But in 2nd Lt Westlakes picture he is already wearing the beret as if he has passed! Why should a crow officer be able to wear the beret in that manner if the individual hasn’t passed! I’m not attacking Sam personally and i’m sure he will pass but at the end of the day he is still a “potential”.


  4. Thats the difference between a para and a HAT. “P” coy but it’s all worth it in the end,when the passing out parade comes,you forget the pain and enjoy donning the maroon beret, UTRINQUE PARATUS.


  5. Don’t know what P Coy your on. Rupert’s use to attend the All Arms version, non of this fannying about with the recruits. They got straight in working with trained soldiers and learnt a great deal.
    One think I can assure you of, when the shit hits the fan and in daily regimental life the Rupert’s need the men around them, non of this “rejoining the junior” ranks! You are all part of the” Maroon Machine” There has to be pride and respect all round. Good luck.


  6. @John, from OC P Company:

    “Historically Parachute Regiment Officers have not been made to wear the green backing, whereas Parachute Regiment Recruits do until passing ‘P Company’. There are a variety of reasons behind this, but largely the reason is that the route in to Airborne Forces is different for Parachute Regiment Officers to Soldiers; officers do not wear their Maroon Berets until they finish at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (1 year of training) whilst soldiers begin wearing their berets when they pass off the square (6 weeks of training). Therefore there is felt the need to for Parachute Regiment Recruits who have not passed P Company to wear the green backing as they wear and represent the Capbadge from an early stage in their training. Parachute Regiment Officers are selected by a board of senior Officers, usually chaired by a 2* General or above, and it is thought that there is no need to make the same differentiation between young officers who have and haven’t passed ‘P Company’; on finishing at Sandhurst they now only wear the Maroon beret for a matter of weeks before wearing the ‘Noddy’ hat for All Arms Pre-Parachute Selection.”


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