Soldier under Training (SuT) Thomas blogs about the tests she faced in her eleventh and twelfth weeks of training.
Monday morning wake up call – a 5 mile tab with 15kg and rifle. Good morning Week 11! Preparing us for our ‘tab test’ later in the week we had a tough 5 mile route through woods and up hills. Every girl found it tough and we felt very tested; aches, pains and blisters aside we all just about managed it! However, by Friday we were much more prepared for the test and we all completed the 6 mile route in time and without too much drama, just the odd falling down a ditch and tripping over a rock.
The girls hit the deck hard but bounced straight back up like on a trampoline to carry on in true soldier fashion. As soon as the tab finished we went straight into jerry can carries and lifting tests. We were already drenched in sweat and the hot weather didn’t help so with white knuckles all round we held on tight to make the distance carrying our 20kg jerry cans.
This was a week of tests and our Corporals made some realistic battlefield injuries for our first aid test. This made it much more realistic and easier to carry out. The girls who were a little queasy with blood had to deal with catastrophic bleeds and overcome their fear, which of course they did! Annie was successfully resuscitated 27 times and so we all passed!
Next was the Annual Combat Marksmanship Test (shooting) test. There were quite a few nerves on the ranges but by the end of the shoot the troop were relieved to have passed. Not only that but 2 of the girls achieved Marksmanship – well done girls on some awesome firing!
To finish off the week we sat our Map Reading test, most of us are a little unsure how well we have done but fingers crossed we did well enough to pass. We didn’t get lost on the mountains of Wales last week so hopefully that is a good sign!
Apart from theory lessons we have started to learn our rifle drill ready for our Pass Out Parade. It has suddenly dawned on us how close we are to completing training. We have a lot of work to do polishing shoes and practising rifle drill. They are surprisingly heavy, especially when you’re holding them in one position with one arm for a long time! There have already been a few foresight blades in faces and some sore collarbones but with a bit of practice we will get it right and be free from black eyes.
By Friday night our bodies were aching all over and we welcomed our beds and a good night sleep!
We were introduced to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) this week and got to see the layout and how it all functions ready for our final exercise and post training. It got us thinking about the different scenarios we will be facing and how to deal with them. Leading up to our final week we spent a lot of time practicing our rifle drill; the rifles are fairly heavy and the movements leave you with a lot of bicep ache! One of the hardest things is trying to keep your head still whilst moving the rifle and not hitting yourself in the face. Add some nerves and Pass Out day could be interesting!
One of the physically toughest things we did this week was the assault course with full kit and rifles. Not only that but we started off doing casualty evacuation drills, picking each other up and running up and down the field carrying one another – our legs were dead before we even started the course! We also did log runs and equipment carrying whilst on our knees, and judo style games trying to get away from or pin down your partner. It was a good laugh as well as an essential learning tool.
Well and truly exhausted, we were onto the assault course. As we lined up away from the start of the course we were wondering what was about to happen. It wasn’t until we were up and running that we noticed the extra weight of the mud that we were now covered in – jumping the wall became a whole new challenge! We tried to ignore our rifles but that was pretty hard to do when it swings round and hits you in the face! It was one of the hardest and one of the best PT sessions we have done and everyone was buzzing afterwards.
Another good lesson this week was grenade throwing. After learning about them and how to look after, handle and throw we completed our grenade weapon handling test. The best bit was once you were competent and has passed the test we got to throw a grenade with a fuze. Our other study this week was mainly C-IED revision for the test; fingers crossed we all passed ok.
Come the weekend and getting ready for Exercise Final Fling was the main aim, organising ourselves and packing our bergans, webbing and day sacks. We had a little break on Saturday evening when the local charity-run cafe put on a civilian night for recruits. This was our chance to take off our proud uniform and wear our own clothes for the evening. With some singing, dancing, waxing, head shaving, highland dancing and pool playing a lot of money was raised.
All that is on our minds now is Ex Final Fling, so wish us luck for our week out in the field! Most of us are excited about it but it’s also made us realise how close we are to the end. The bonds we have formed are strong and the team work is great. We are looking forward to completing this stage of our careers but with a sad tone that we will all go our separate ways and miss each other a lot.