Sapper Ed Joseph is an Army Reserve soldier from 131 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers (131 Indep Cdo Sqn RE), embarking on the Reserve Forces Commando Course (RFCC) at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM), Lympstone. He has two weeks in which to complete the gruelling course that, if successfully completed, will culminate in him earning the coveted green beret.
Three, two, one….. Go!
On Friday morning and with no time for rest we went straight from the field into a timed Tarzan run.
Sunday was a big day for me as it was the endurance test. For many who have embarked on Commando training, there is always one test that can weigh on your mind just a little more than the others. For me, it was the endurance course. When you run through at a relaxed pace it’s actually rather fun, however, add test conditions and it transforms into the most nightmarish of challenges.
I trudged to the start line with the rest of my syndicate, the ground underfoot sodden and slippery from the constant lashing rain. There were great feelings of trepidation mixed with excitement at attempting such a crucial test. The DS stood at the start line, and as he called out “Three, two, one, go!” I leapt into action.
You first hit the dry tunnels, which, on this occasion, would be better described as slimy mud tunnels. I crawled through ignoring the scrapes and bashes along the way. I then ran through the muddy gullies to Peter’s pool. This is a large stretch of water which, depending on your height and rainfall levels, can reach your mouth at some points. The water was near freezing and I involuntarily gasped as I entered the water.
Out of the pool I pressed forward and ran through the gullies and up the hill, my water logged kit adding to the weapon and webbing weight, which made the task of running all the more difficult. I reached the next obstacle, the sheep dip (water tunnel), out of breath but fortunately in good spirits. Here you are reliant on the guys in your syndicate to push and pull you through the water tunnel as swiftly as possible. Getting stuck under the large slab of concrete isn’t the most pleasant of experiences, so you really put your trust in your syndicate comrades. Fortunately the boys were on good form, and I was in and out within seconds.
Defining moment of the course
It was then on to the ‘Smartie tubes’ where you have to crawl through a series of stone filled tunnels that aren’t your knees’ best friends. Fortunately, my inner Rattus norvegicus (sewer rat for those not well versed in Latin) was in good order, so I flew through the tubes. I emerged from the final tunnel in a rather shabby state but I understood it was now just a case of ‘digging out’ on this last stretch – the four mile run back to camp. I knew I had to put my head down and give 100% maximum effort to get a decent pass.
When you get back to camp it’s straight on to the range for your marksmanship test, 10 shots on a 25 metre range simulating a 200 metre target, and you have to get a minimum of six on target. I got all 10 shots bang on and I was eager to know my final time but it was not until a bit later that I found out. I had done it in 65.38. This was the defining moment of the course for me as I had finished it in good time, the fastest time of the day in fact and I had overcome the anxiety I had felt about not being able to crack it.
To be continued…