The last you guys heard from me, I was headed into the field for a 5 day camping trip, Canadian Infantry style. I was soooo not looking forward to it. Definitely one of the few times when I'm glad that I'm wrong about something. For the most part it was pretty fun. Mind you, there were parts that sucked really bad, but my brain seems to be erasing those bits from my memory as we speak.
Monday, we loaded up the bus at around 06:30, and headed out to the Farnham Training Center. Once there, we got tobaggans, and loaded them up with our tents, stoves, lanterns, etc. After practicing setting up the tents a few times, we threw on our rucksacks (countaining about 20 kg of supplies for the week) and hiked in to our camp site, about 3km in, dragging the toboggans behind us.
The other three platoons doing the same course as us also hiked in, but they had their rucksacks driven in on the truck, and unloaded once they got there. Just one of the many examples of my platoon's Directing Staff working us harder than any of their Directing Staff does. This is quite fine by us, because we really are better for all the extra work.
After setting up, the rest of Monday was lessons, which are not pleasant outdoors. Either standing, or sitting on ice cold bleachers, at -10° C, as the wind cuts through your combat jacket, and all the sweat that you built up hiking in chills instantly. Not fun.
When we're back at base, for the most part, our nights are our own time. Not so much out in the field. The first priority is security. In our case, for training we were required to have at least 4 sentries on watch at all times. Otherwise the Sarge might sneak into the campsite and steal our rifles from us. Any time that we weren't in the campsite, we had to have a hand on it, or have it slung all the time. Let me tell you something, carrying that thing for a week is such a pain in the ass.
But anyways, sentry duty and the cold added up to very little sleep. Surprisingly, we only got woken up by our Directing Staff once in the middle of the night, for a fire drill. That was rather chilly, especially since one of the guys in my tent grabbed one of my boots instead of his, and I couldn't find his.
Tuesday was lessons in the morning, and combat training in the afternoon. Various formations to adopt when you come into contact with the enemy, practice throwing on your gas mask (which means if you wear glasses like myself, no seeing for you), and firing shots off at the Sarge (blanks of course).
At night, they gave us an exercise where we were given clues to our position, ie "You are in the NW Corner" or "You are 1 position right and 1 ahead of this guy" and we had to arrange ourselves accordingly. During this, the Directing Staff was joking around with us, singing silly little french songs, and basically distracting us. But they were having fun, and we were having fun, and we heard the whistle of incoming artillery fire, and hit the deck before the big boom.
Another simulated attack, running around in the dark with explosions going on all around us. Unfortunately some people lost some stuff in the confusion, so they decided to hold and impromptu inspection to ensure that we've got all our stuff on us, attached correctly, and in the right place. While getting ready for this, one of the guys left his rifle on the ground just long enough for the Sarge to snatch it, and unload the magazine on automatic. Man, was he pissed.
We got the whole "We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way, and I guess you guys chose the hard way" speech, and then he took us for a walk. And by walk, I mean he walked, looking like he was putting in no effort, at a pace that most of the rest of us had to jog to keep up. After about 1km of that, we got sent to bed, dripping with sweat. Dear lord, was it ever cold that night.
That was the low point of the week, The next day was topography. Map, compass. You are here, go here. It was fun, tromping around in the woods, both for the afternoon, and at night from about 18:00 to 23:30. Much harder in the dark. I managed to have one of my magazines fall out of my rifle, and when we realized it, we weren't able to find it, even after trying to backtrack. I'm still not sure how much trouble I'm going to get into for that, but they don't seem too pissed off about it.
Thursday was awesome. We had a little competition against one of the other platoons. We had to navigate to a place, build a frame to lift a barrel, move to another place, build a rope bridge, move on, set up a tent, and then get back to the campsite.
Remember all that extra work we've been doing that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it's paying off. We didn't just beat them, we trounced them. At the first task, we got there at about the same time. Our platoon was done in 10-15 minutes. They however, made 2 failed attempts to complete the task, before they eventually just copied our design. We had our rope bridge up before they showed up to start building it, and that's as far as they ended up getting. We finished on time, and they were 1 modular tent and about 4 km of hiking behind us.
Needless to say, we were pleased with our performance, our Directing Staff was pleased with our performance, and their Directing Staff was really freakin' pissed off. We were told to eat supper, clean our rifles, and then head to bed. Oh, and don't worry about a sentry, the other platoon will be covering that for you tonight. After they have about 4 hours of running around practicing doing the stuff they fucked up earlier in the day. Try not to let the explosions keep you awake. Man, that was a great day.
Anyways, Friday was a bunch of practice exercises, mostly going over proper procedure for planning tasks and giving orders. Definitely something we'll need to know once we get our commission and all. And then, we hiked back out and headed back to base.
All I can really say, is that first shower was one of the best EVER. It's quite good to be back to actual food now. While I do believe the claims that the Canadian Forces' ration packs are the best in the world, as they were rather tasty for food that is meant to keep indefinitely, they were definitely not good for the bowels and such. That's about as much detail as I'll go into about that.
It certainly wasn't all fun and games. For a lot of it, we were quite miserable, and on Wednesday, one of our guys injured his back after falling while carrying a rucksack. Due to missing too much time in the field, he'll have to be recoursed, which entails starting over again at week 1. That itself isn't too bad, but unfortunately, there isn't another Basic Officer Training course starting up again until May. Until then, he'll be stuck doing odd jobs around the base. Poor guy.
But yeah, I'd say the one thing killin' me the most here is the limited net access. I miss you guys, and thanks for all the support. Gotta run!
Palpz's Basic Training Adventure!
Farewell, Bronchitis, Inspections, Montreal, Tear Gas, and Guns, Camping, Canadian Infantry Style, Broken Teeth, A Brand New Tooth, A Fall From Grace, and Redemption