This is the final blog from Junior Soldier (JS) Field, as he completes phase 1 training at the Army Technical Foundation College, Winchester.
This is quite a happy time for me as this is my last blog from ATFC Winchester, because I am finishing phase 1 (basic) training. For me this is an amazing feeling as I feel that I have achieved the biggest and most important thing in my life so far. I am about to pass out and move on to phase 2 (trade) training at Blandford in Dorset. I am looking forward to the new challenges that it will bring.
Anyway, I will get on and tell you about my last 3 weeks here. The main thing has been our final exercise – FINAL FLING. We deployed on Sunday 27 March, and headed for Sennybridge Training Area in the Brecon Beacons. I was looking forward to the exercise but was concerned about the weather as I’d heard that Brecon is famed for its own weather patterns which can be particularly harsh. We got on to the training area and moved in to buildings which were our homes for the first 5 days as we were conducting the live fire part of the exercise. This package was brilliant as we started off at individual Close Quarter Battle (CQB) lanes and then built up to pairs and fire team before having a section attack on the final day. We did a lot of crawling up rivers and darting from one piece of cover to the next and it really made you realise what we had been training for the last 20 weeks. It was all with live rounds and made everything feel so much more real! We also did a night shoot and this was really good as it looked really amazing with the ground being lit up by illumination and tracer rounds lighting up the pitch black.
After 5 days we finished the live fire phase and moved on to the second phase of the exercise. This involved 36 hours in the field before 36 hours in a Forward Operating Base (FOB) environment. The FOB phase was particularly good because it was all a new experience. During the FOB phase we did a night patrol and we only got 2 hours sleep which was quite tiring, but we managed to catch up on a bit of sleep the next day which was nice.
The final phase consisted of 4 days living out of a harbour which gave us no protection from the elements. During this part of the exercise it rained pretty much for 2 days straight which meant that everything I had with me was pretty much drenched, however it then brightened up and everything dried out. This phase consisted of a number of patrols, including section attacks and recce patrols before doing the final attack as a Troop. This was the best part as it signified that we had made it and finished the final exercise. We returned to Winchester to have the majority of the weekend off to sort our kit out and prepare for the massive amount of drill the following week.
Monday, however, seemed to arrive in a flash and we were soon out practising our rifle drill. We also had our final fitness assessment which went OK. Some people got some really good times but I was a bit disappointed with my run time. We ran through our first pass off parade rehearsal, practising marching on to the square as a troop. I was promoted to Junior Corporal which I was very pleased with. I really feel like I have achieved a lot here at ATFC Winchester.
I was also told during the final week that I had won the Hollis Award for Education. This means that of all the presentations and essays we had done, I was deemed to have performed best out of the whole of C Squadron which I was pretty happy about. The pass out parade is on Friday and I can’t wait to see my family in the crowd and I know it will be the proudest moment of my life.
Well that is it, we have all made it to the end of a challenging yet extremely rewarding 23-week course. I have made some really good friends who will go to different parts of the Army, but I will stay in touch with them as we specialise in our chosen Corps. It feels like a real achievement, and I am really proud of where I am now.