Soldier to Officer: Week One
Hayley Larcombe served in the British Army as a qualified nurse for nine years. After a successful career, including deployments to Afghanistan and Kenya, she decided to apply for a commission into the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps as an officer.
She was successful at the Army Officer Selection Board and has recently started the Professional Qualified Officers course at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst (RMAS). For 11 weeks she will be in Dettingen Company, 47 Platoon.
This blog will follow her progress: week in week out.
I once said to a collegue that, “You couldn’t pay me enough money to go back to basic training again!” Well, it is 0530 in the morning, I am ironing my bed and my Platoon and I are about to parade outside our bedroom doors to drink a bottle of water and sing the national anthem at the top of our lungs. We have done this every morning this week and we will continue to do so until the end of week 3. It’s certainly a shock to the system for some.
We arrived at RMAS on Sunday, dressed smartly in our suits. 24 hours later we were all dressed in combats. Our first lessons were based on the values and standards of the British Army. These lessons were lead by the Senior Padre at RMAS and brought about some interesting debate. We have also conducted the Military Swim Test (MST) this week and the Personal Fitness Assessment (PFA), which enabled the instructors to break the Company down into streams, based on their physical ability. Our first Physical Training (PT) session was a boot run, where we were introduced to the training area and its many hills. There is a very apt sign above the gym here at RMAS that reads, ‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’.
We have also started our rifle lessons this week. The rifle lesson revision sessions have been particularly fun as the Colour Sergeant’s make them into a game, bringing out the competitive edge of certain Officer Cadets.
Our rooms are inspected every morning at 0600, so every evening is spent preparing kit. Although tiring, the inspections and kit preparation have really helped to bond the Platoon. Teamwork here is absolutely the key to success! Our Platoon has allocated one area of the bedroom to each Officer Cadet. That Officer Cadet then goes along the Platoon line, checking that the area they have been allocated is neat, tidy and that all lockers are the same. Our Colour Sergeant is trying to teach us that getting the little things right is important. If you get the little things right, you will get the big things right.
Drill lessons are also now in full swing (excuse the pun). Now, as padres, doctors, lawyers, physiotherapists, dentists, nurses and other professionally qualified people, you would think putting one foot in from of the other and marching would be doable. It’s trickier than it looks though, especially for those that have never experienced drill before. Nevertheless, the Company is working hard, often practicing their personal drill and Platoon drill on the parade square, long after the sun has gone down.
All in all, not a bad first week. Although we are all shattered, morale is high in 47 Platoon and we are all still smiling!