Do NOT walk on the drill square

Soldier under Training (SuT) Thomas is our new blogger from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright. She’ll be writing regularly about her experiences of Phase 1 Training. In her first post, she looks back at the first 2 weeks…

SuT Thomas

SuT Thomas

After getting through a tough selection and impatiently waiting, some longer than others, we were eager to start Basic Training. Nerves were showing and for some it was their first time away from home. Much of the first few days were spent getting paperwork completed, medicals, injections (with a few queasy reactions!) and settling in. We finally got our kit on the third day and there was an instant lift in spirits. Instead of feeling stuck out like sore thumbs we suddenly felt like we all belonged in the British Army.

Proud, and in our new kit, we began to learn how to march, something we had seen troops doing around camp, slick and impressive, unlike our first attempts! The Section Commanders are fantastic – firm but fair, gradually building us up and keeping us on our toes.

Everyone was worried about running and press-ups, understandably so, and our first press-up ‘wake-up call’ came from the physical training instructor (PTI) when we forgot to take off our watches for the first fitness assessments. We were all on the ground doing press-ups whilst shouting “I will not wear my watch to PT”! We will not make that mistake again!

The first week finished on a high with us watching live demonstrations on the shooting range, marching to the woods and camping out overnight. It was our first insight to living in the field and an opportunity to get to know each other better. Personalities started to show and we couldn’t wait to do more.

Week 2 saw the start of our Skill At Arms lessons, and we were quite excited. Having been issued with our rifles to use during training we were straight into lessons. Suddenly we all realised how much there is to learn and how important both our knowledge and our actions are when it comes to handling dangerous weapons – the most important piece of equipment we have. Lessons included part names, safety precautions, dismantling and re-assembling, cleaning and maintenance – with a lot more to follow. Our competitive sides came out as we all tried to be the quickest to dismantle and re-assemble our weapons. The learning environment here is very different and being switched on all the time is vital. It can be hard when you’re up at 0530hrs every morning, but we’re getting used to it. For that split second when your eyes wander and something catches your eye out of the window, don’t look – it will be the one time the instructor sees you…

Our physical training sessions increased and although everyone loved the tough circuit training, the interval running session on the track was hard. 6x300m followed by a fast 200m then a flat out 100m – all of us suddenly trying to run like Usain Bolt! Of course we were told this was the final thing – then 5 minutes later we were doing a flat out 400m! Lactic acid is not nice! We played a volleyball match later in the week, which was a great team effort but nothing was more spectacular than the serve that sent the ball over the net and straight into the basketball net at the other end of the court! Well done 1 Section on winning – but remember it is only week 2!

Drill lessons are going well, good enough to let us practice on the main drill square. The first rule of Drill Club – do NOT walk on the Drill square, the second rule of drill club – do NOT walk on the drill square – march or do press-ups! At this rate we will all look like Kelly Holmes by week 14!

13 thoughts on “Do NOT walk on the drill square

  1. Yes it’s tough but that’s why the British Army is the best in the world because when you’re tired and hungry and aching, you can still function and do the job you’re there to do.

    As for your rifle being, “the most important piece of equipment we have”. I disagree. It’s the second most important piece of kit you have. Your feet are the most important. Wash them, powder them, cream them, protect them because if they’re not in working order then everything else grinds to a halt!


  2. Glad you are enjoying your training, reminds me of my training with the TA and then later with the Royal Navy.
    Drill square’s are alot harder on you’re hands than ya boots!! I soon learned NOT to walk .
    Good luck with the rest of training and your career ahead and stay safe xx


  3. Things only get better as you progress through training , you may hate it whilst your there , but belive me once you pass off you will want to be back as its the best time of your Army career , so stick in dig in and cope with what is thrown at you listen to your instructors and it will be easy , good luck


  4. Hello Sweetheart ..
    WOW..I envy you so much ..I live in the States and have served in the ARMY for 25 years and you are just getting started .I served 3 tours in IRAQ where I was injured there .what a terrible place .I hope your lil’ young heart never has to see combat its not what some glorify it to be trust me it changes you …but enough of that I love that you are doing this I think its a wonderful idea and hope after this is all done we can still talk here or useing your own email …well I KNOW YOUR A LIL’ NERVES ACTING UP ..well don’t be it alot to take in and at the same time the cadret are trying to taech you all disclipine it not easy ..but all the yeallin they do well its tuff but you will see its for all your own good ..have you ever heard of creatine? it will take care of the acid you know .it washes that latic acid out of your body you can get it from a health food store body builders use as I as well when I work out lifting weights man will it ever work on your muscles and you wont be sore at all get some if you can ok …well I met some of your commrades in arms in IRAQ fought beside them they were great wonderful men …well Im going to go now and I look so foward to talking to you I have all the BRITISH command on my facebook do you have a facebook account if so can we be friends ? well take love ..I think you are quiet charming young lady and you will go far in the service and if there is anything you need let me know ok I would be more than happy to help ok …
    your friend from acroo the pond..


  5. Go! Girl! You’ll find the end result is very much worth the blood, sweat and tears you expend getting there!
    Well done and keep in touch.


  6. Ahhh, I remember training at ATC Pirbright when i was 24 years old! (13 years ago now!) I never made it through as i had a recurring knee injury, soo gutted, i’m sure it must have changed now, is Sandies cafe still there?
    All the best with your training, remember to ‘run through the pain’ lol


  7. The navy equivalent of a Drill Sergeant is a Chief GI (Gunnery Instuctor) distinguished by Japanned

    leather leggings and a voice like a foghorn. My recollection of Basic Training is that there was

    never any spare time and it was tiring, young and fit as I thought I was. Good luck with your


    A friend of mine was doing National Service and he was on the drill square:

    Drill Sgt: ” What are you looking at?”
    Trainee: “Nothing Sgt.”
    Drill Sgt: ” Don’t lie to me, you were looking at that woman walking along the road.”
    Trainee: ” Yes Sgt.”
    Drill Sgt: “You would like to give her one, wouldn’t you?”
    Trainee: ” No, Sgt.”

    Drill Sgt: ” Don’t lie to me, you would like to give her one, wouldn’t you?”
    Trainee: ” Yes Sgt.”

    Drill Sgt: ” THAT’S MY WIFE!!!”



  8. This reminds me of a time in the 80’s when we were deployed to Jever Air Base, Germany. When deployments meant getting drunk and eating. We were walking back from the All ranks club to the dorms ( We BTW were yanks and this wasn’t directed to us). When from behind us there was this booming voice that yelled out only like a British Sgt Maj can”Get off the grass” we all checked if we were on the grass and thank God we weren’t. I am now 40 something and every time I think of walking on the grass, off a walk way I always hear that voice in the back of my head.


  9. Andrew – its the General Service Capbadge (GS). The Soldiers under Training (SuT) wear it up until and including their drill test in week 7. If sucessfully passed they get presented their Corps capbadge whatever that may be.


  10. Oh kely!l its great to hear how you are getting on! Great blog, cant wait to hear more about your adventures! Bet you enjoyed that track session!!!!


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