Phase 1 – ATC Pirbright
For various reasons, I shan’t be going in to too much detail. Besides, part of the fun was the anticipation of what was going to happen. So that’s that, here’s my Ph1.
Read through your Joining Instructions carefully. You should be sent it by your recruiter after passing Selection (ADSC) and given a start date. If not, ring them and ask for the details.
Week 1 – Familiarisation and Admin
Remember the kit list? Yes, pack em! I took the train from Waterloo Stn in London to Brookwood so I needed to pack light … everything in one suit case and a backpack. At Brookwood, a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) hauled us on a coach and drove us to camp. He was a 23 year old AGC SPS (clerk), who during the 14-week long course was perhaps the most annoying person I’ve ever come across.
We then met the members of the troop who got picked up from the station a lot earlier or had been dropped off by friends/family in the admin wing. We were given a quick welcome and some forms to fill in like: bank details, emergency contact numbers and… a will. I met some of the lads on Facebook (Army Jobs was our first meeting place), so that helped stop awkward silences. It was a matter of putting real faces to Facebook profiles.
There were at least 48 of us so there was a lot of waiting around.
We were measured up to fit helmets, respirators to clothes and boots. I spent a good 5 or so minutes walking in boots, making sure they were the right ones, as this was the most important piece of kit for me.
After all the measurements and paperwork sorted, we were marched on to our accommodation block at 2 ATR 108 Sq. We were all henceforth became part of Delhi Troop. We were broken down into 4 sections. I was 2 section together with 11 others.
Our section was compromised of 5 AGC SPS (Adjutant General’s Corps Staff Personnel Support Clerks – Conn, DJ, Fryer, Hendricks and Jones), 4 RMPs (Royal Military Police – Croot, Bogle, Swirly and Wilkinson), 1 Royal Logistic Corps (Porter – Driver) and me, a Musician. A fairly mixed handful! Our section would not have been complete of course without our section commander – a Corporal from the Royal Anglian.
Our troop was comprised of mostly lads who wanted to join the RMP (monkeys), about 5 RLC (loggies) and about half joining the Adjutant General Corps as Staff Personnel Support (or special pen service as we dig at them) – a wide age range and people from all over … the world. We had an American Geordie, some Scots, northerners and a South African. The youngest in our troop was 17 and the oldest was 36, but the majority was around 20-22.
Our training staff was led by a Captain from Royal Signals. Our Troop Sergeant was from Army Air Corps (Troop was convinced he had a Short Man Syndrome from the get go). 1 Section was led by a tall and loud Bombardier from Royal Artillery. 3 Section was with a lean and mean Nigerian/Ghanaian (?) Corporal from the Royal Logistic Corps, and lastly, another Royal Anglian Corporal led 4 Section.
The next day, the troop got up at 0530. Swirly’s done this sort of stuff in Harrogate before so he said that was a good time… only we found him in bed until about 0550! We showered, shaved and then went to scoff (breakfast – in fact scoff refers to meals). Conveniently, our block was direct opposite the scoff house. By 0630, we started block jobs: cleaned our own section rooms and ablutions as well as a rotational duty among 4 sections of either the corridors/stairs, TV room or the COSSHH cupboard (a small room with mops and cleaning products). Because of the layout of our room, it was easier to divide these tasks into 3 groups. Jones’s corner of the room got our room, the middle (DJ’s) got the ablutions, and our corner got the corridors. By 0700, we paraded outside the block in smart civvies (suits – as we didn’t all have uniforms; still awaiting restock of some sizes), for ‘areas’ and various troop wide admin and announcements such as sorting out who’s sick, individual notices etc.
The first week was filled with familiarisation and various administration tasks. There was camp orientation (knowing where places are: cookhouse, shops, lecture rooms and laundry house) to all sorts of inductions and lectures like
- Physical Training (PT) We were assigned a Ghurka PTI… this is gonna be a fun course! Thankfully, Day 1 at the gym was a subdued introduction to the gym, staff and physical exercises.
- welfare services (where to get help if you’re feeling
wimpy, bored or in need of emotional support). Thankfully, I never had to use any of these while I was there.
- medicals (eye check, getting vaccinations and medical officer getting hands on to make sure everything’s nice and well). This took ages! Sitting there waiting for jabs, audiogram, and my chance to walk like a duck felt like years!
We were made to memorise our Army number and various etiquettes such as this salutation:
Sir/Sgt/Bomb/Cpl, I am [Army Number] Recruit [Name] of 108 The Princess Royal Squadron, Delhi Troop. I am aspiring to be a [trade] in the [capbadge], Sir/Sgt/Bomb/Cpl ….
We had to say that after halting outside the office whenever we had to speak to our section commanders. Rather strange at first but it was one of those things we started to do naturally as the weeks progressed. I fumbled a lot and admittedly, I didn’t get to say it properly until about week 4 or 5.
On the Thursday, we went back to the clothing store and collected all the other pieces of kit we needed. It was like Christmas came early with the amount of stuff we got. The most amusing one was the Army issued us knife, spoon and fork! Later on the day, we got our regimental trackies that we had to wear when we cut out about outside of work hours. We paid £64 for a set of decent Regatta waterproof jacket, blue hiking trousers and a blue polo shirt.
On Friday evening, we stayed overnight outside where we did a troop ice breaker (a quick spill on who I was and what I was in for) and some introduction to exercise like cooking with hexi and putting up a basher. I remember sharing a basher with this lad Wilkinson, who for the most part talked bullshit about life in general. It’s not as if there’s anything better to do, so I let it lull me to sleep.
Even though it was just week 1, I remember feeling very comfortable and glad about my section and our troop. Already made good friends with Swirly, a bigger than life character who’s going Royal Military Police (RMP), whose face I awoke to for the next 14 weeks; DJ a cheerful and diligent guy from Cameroon and Banni, a fellow musician in 1 section.
There wasn’t anything I remember being terrible, and it was just a case of getting our stuff organised. Our section gelled pretty quickly and our corporal was very helpful. I grew in confidence that this Army thing was definitely a good decision.
Another memorable thing this week was the church service held at the Church of England chapel (there’s a Catholic one right next to the scoff house). Some troops who were about to pass out jeered with songs and dance. A lads troop changed the lyrics of ‘Follow Me’ and one girl troop changed the lyrics of ‘I Will Survive’ to chronicle their time in Pirbright in the verses. Pretty amusing and something we definitely did look up to, but knowing it was just our first week, the end seemed incredibly too far into the future! Anyway, we were soon introduced to ‘One More Step Along the World I Go‘ hymn that most, if not all of soldiers that pass through Pirbright knows. Not the usual church service, really.
It was a relief how things calmly settled. Definitely wasn’t anything like Full Metal Jacket.
Here’s the link to the rest of the series:
- Phase 1 Kit List
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 3 Weapon Handling Test
- Week 4
- Week 5
- Week 6
- Week 7 Drill Test/Long Weekend
- Week 8 Exercise Half Way
- Week 9
- Week 10 Soldier Development Wing (Sennybridge)
- Week 11
- Week 12 CBRN and other culminating tests
- Week 13 Exercise Final Fling
- Week 14 Pass Out