This is the final blog of Phase 1 training from Soldier under Training (SuT) Siobhan Spiers, covering her final week at the Army Training Centre, Pirbright. With just the final passing out parade (and hopefully no actual passing out) to go, how did the week play out? Read on…
Week 14 arrived and that meant we would pass out on Friday, and leave as trained soldiers!
Our final lessons consisted mainly of drill, but we also had PT (Physical Training) and medicals too. One of the PT lessons was orienteering. It was great fun, but slightly strange being given the chance to run around the camp unsupervised. And the other session was potted sports, which was slightly more fun and chilled out than the usual PT lessons – but it still ended with us all in the press up position, for not moving fast enough…
As expected, we had loads of drill lessons to ensure that we looked good on our pass out parade, and by the end of the week our shoulders were bruised from where the rifle sits, and our arms and feet were aching. We did our first run through of the parade on Tuesday and it didn’t go too well. When the inspection takes place after marching on we had to stand still for ages, which was really difficult in the hot weather when holding a rifle. Four of the girls had to be escorted off the square when they nearly fainted (the wrong kind of passing out!) Our rifle drill was also not up to a high standard at the start of the week either, as the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) was quick to point that out to us.
As the week went by we got more practise and our drill got better. The RSM seemed happier by Thursday when he came on the drill square with us, which was a good thing because he told us that if we didn’t improve he would have us on the square ‘til late! Although the more we practised the pass out parade, the more nervous we became about it as we realised how hard it was going to be to get it right.
As we were leaving camp for the last time, it was also busy week in terms of packing away kit and cleaning. We also had other things such as collecting and paying for our photographs taken on Exercise FINAL FLING, and getting pictures taken in our Number 2 uniforms. We were up late Thursday night scrubbing the block so we could leave as soon as possible the next day.
When we woke up on Friday morning we were all nervous. Our platoon staff took us to breakfast to make sure we all had a good meal to minimise any fainting on the drill square. It was a busy morning and after marching around camp with the band, we had a rehearsal, and then came the real pass off parade. We marched on to the drill square to a loud cheer! We stood in front of our families and even though we hadn’t seen them for a couple of months we had to stay still and try not to look at them so that we wouldn’t get distracted. After the parade we spent some time with our families and had lunch, then came back to the block to collect our bags and get a final brief.
It was an emotional day, we all felt really proud and relived to be finished training. At the same time we knew we would all miss each other after spending 24 hours a day in each others’ pockets! Finally leaving Pirbright knowing that we wouldn’t come back was strange.
The past 14 weeks have been hard work, but definitely worth it.