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.
Muffled thud of boots
The day of reckoning had arrived and we were to attempt the 30-mile speed march across Dartmoor. Some question whether you should eat a big breakfast before the test. Personally I found that it was better to get as much stodge on board as possible but to do so at least a couple of hours before the start of the test. You use so much energy over the 8 hours that you need the carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. So after a hoofing breakfast the 30 Miler began.
I had been really lucky up until this point and hadn’t suffered any form of injury minus the little niggles that are unavoidable. I got into a rhythm, and simply enjoyed drinking the fresh morning air as I listened to the muffled thud of boots hitting the grass pathway. The first stop is about one and a half hours into the march. Here you are given water replenishment and a slight rest before hitting the second leg. We pushed on, the sun having risen to reveal some of the most breath taking views in the UK. If you are able to focus on the amazing vista around you, then the challenge of running such a long distance doesn’t seem quite so severe.
After a long slog over Dartmoor we reached the final rendezvous point. The waiting Directing Staff (DS) immediately started thrusting ‘oggies’ (pasties) into our hands, with the gusto of an enthused kebab seller. In that lively manner the DS seem to possess, he instructed us to consume our oggies with haste so we could crack on with the last leg. You wouldn’t think a greasy pasty would be so welcome, but I could have eaten a second. After squaring ourselves away it was on to the iconic bridge that marks the end of the 30 Miler. We ran this final leg elated, the fatigue momentarily absent. It was marvellous to see the smiles on the faces of those who had been in our shoes before clapping us in, as you knew they fully appreciated what we had be through.
After the customary handshakes and back patting we moved to the area where our green lids were to be presented. Forming up in three ranks, we were introduced to the Brigade Commander (BC) who would present us with our berets. As the BC drew closer to me, I could feel the beginning of an ear-to-ear smile developing. When he eventually made it to my position I was beaming with pride and the full realisation of my achievement dawned; I was now a Commando in the Royal Engineers.
To be continued…