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.
27 Feb 2014
Commando training: Quest for the green beret – Pt1
I don’t think many people have an appreciation of what a reservist has to undergo to have any chance of success on a course such as the Reserve Forces Commando Course (RFCC). Any spare minute leading up to the course is consumed preparing your body and mental strength for the difficult task ahead. It can sometimes feel like a bit of a lonely journey, but the desire to wear the Green Beret serves as ample inspiration.
1 March 2014
Commando training: Quest for the green beret – Pt2
Monday morning began with vertical cliff assault training. This is what many consider a key part of the Commando skillset, and is a feature of the training I take enormous pleasure in. In fact I enjoyed this element so much, it dissipated any issues I had with the harsh weather. Nevertheless, I was given a sharp reminder of how tough conditions were when whilst making a water crossing over the lake; the edges were covered in a thick layer of ice!
5 March 2014
Commando training: Quest for the green beret – Pt3
In complete silence we inched our way up to the final set of stairs ready to begin the assault. Stacked up, all thoughts of the exhaustion and cold of being in the field had dissipated and we waited in the darkness like fighting dogs waiting to strike. The anticipation of the battle to come was strangely exciting and just as the sun began to rise, the attack was initiated.
7 March 2014
Commando training: Quest for the green beret – Pt4
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…
10 March 2014
Commando training: Quest for the green beret – Pt5
That evening we were transported to Okehampton in preparation for the 30 Miler across Dartmoor. This march over undulating terrain is the final test to become a commando and upon finishing the course you are awarded your green beret. But this was to be tomorrow, so the most important thing was to try and snatch some rest before the final hurdle.
13 March 2014
Commando training: Quest for the green beret – Pt6
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.
17 March 2014
Commando training: Green beret quest ends with success
The story hasn’t quite finished! A ceremony was held the next day for an award called the Parker Trophy. This is presented for the best performance on a course for soldiers attending the Regular AACC. It is something which is not normally awarded to Reserve Forces unless the DS feel there has been a superior effort made.
Having successfully completed the Reserve Forces Commando Course (RFCC), culminating in earning the coveted green beret, we follow him through his subsequent training.
30 April 2014
Commando training: Cold Weather Warfare in Norway
The water was liquid ice, so I had no problem performing a speedy exit. When you exit the water you run to a makeshift bar, where you are given a tot of rum and told to toast the Queen. It’s these little eccentricities that keep your spirits up. Indeed the morale of the group was lifted after the ice drills and despite my feet feeling frozen for what seemed like an age, I was looking forward to going into Harstad to try my hand at learning a bit of Norwegian…
09 December 2014
Desert soldiering: Exercise Jebel Dagger in Jordan
We were taught how to make improvised stretchers like the clove hitch or roscoe, so that we can evacuate casualties from remote areas. At night I could hear gunfire as 40 Commando practiced live firing in the distance. I remember sitting on a rocky outcrop waiting to abseil down the cliff, watching tracers and flares going off across the desert, lighting up the sky like fireworks…