Soldier to Officer: Week Three
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. For 11 weeks she will be in Dettingen Company, 47 Platoon.
This blog will follow her progress: week in week out.
At the end of last week Dettingen Company deployed on Exercise Browning’s Beginning. 47 Platoon’s Colour Sergeant told the Company that he had ordered rain especially for us and funnily enough at 1010 the heavens opened and it poured with rain. We patrolled for about 5km to get to the training area. The purpose of this first military exercise was to consolidate the basic military skills that we have learnt over the last few weeks. This included, setting up a triangular harbour, patrolling formations, hand signals and administration in the field.
Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the whole exercise as my Father was taken ill. With a heavy heart, I said goodbye to the man that raised me on
Tuesday morning. I am very grateful to the training team at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), who got me off the training area and en route to the hospital so quickly. Because of this I was able to get there, whilst my Father was still lucid, to say goodbye. I returned to the course on Tuesday evening. 47 Platoon have been so supportive and I am very grateful to each and every one of them for getting me through this week! When asking them how the rest of the exercise went, there seemed to be a predominant theme. MONKEY RUNS AND LEOPARD CRAWLING. Those that know, know!
We had our introduction to the assault course this week, in our Platoons, which was brilliant. The Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) took us through all the techniques required to get over the obstacles safety and in good time. Although physically very challenging, this session was thoroughly enjoyable and helped to further bond the Platoons. At the end of the session, the PTI lined us up alongside the lake and said, “I wouldn’t make you guys do anything that I’m not prepared to do myself, so everybody jump in!” After 3, we all jumped! Funnily enough, the PTI stayed on the side, bone dry! Fair play though, to our Platoon Commander and Colour Sergeant, who were good sports and also jumped in!
We we’re also introduced to the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) chamber this week. NOT SO BRILLIANT! During our training we have to be exposed to CS gas. It is part of the CBRN training package, to give Officer Cadets confidence in their CBRN equipment. I experienced this in Phase 1 training at ATR Pirbright, 9 years ago.
It was much worse than I remembered! The Colour Sergeants here are very creative with their training ideas. At the end of this week we consolidated all of our CBRN training with a, ‘CBRN Olympic Games’. Although physically very demanding, this was a lot of fun! It was reported yesterday that there was a suspected ‘chemical incident’ at London City Airport, that may have been caused by a release of CS gas. The CBRN threat is very real so it is imperative that we get these skills and drills right!
Finally this week, we had our drill test. Thankfully the whole Company passed and as a reward we were granted the weekend off! Most of us plan on sleeping. ALOT! We look forward to getting stuck back in on Monday!