A Royal Marine spends over 32 weeks in basic training, the longest and arguably the toughest basic military training in the world. This culminates in 4 Commando Tests of which the last one is a 30 mile march, across the hard and undulating terrain of Dartmoor, carrying 40lbs plus rifle in under 8 hours.
This test of endurance is the final test faced by a Royal Marine recruit; after 31 weeks of hard body degrading training, sleep deprivation, complete fatigue (after spending weeks on exercise mimicking intense operations )and also the 3 previous Commando Tests, means by this point their bodies is in bits. Their legs are heavy, they have injuries and niggles reducing performance, their feet are sore and full of blisters from previous exercises, they haven’t slept longer than 5 hours (a full 5 hour would be a dream at this point) and they just want it to end. 30 Miles and it is over, they will be certified and fully qualified Royal Marines.
The Commandos came into existence during World War 2 when Winston Churchill ordered the formation of a Corps of shock ‘ Commando’ forces. Eventually, the ‘Commandos’ came into fruition with training taking place in the Mountainous North Western Part of Scotland. Instructors who offered an irregular perspective to military operation, embraced individualism and the power of the thinking soldier but enforced the ethos of team work and excellence were gathered and designed and instructed the ‘Commando Course’.
The training was brutal, designed to break all but the strongest and forge successful volunteers into resourceful and aggressive shock troops that would be used to conduct raids along the German held coast, disrupt enemy supply lines and strike fear to enemy hearts and minds. The training culminated in the final 4 Commando tests, each designed to test soldiers across the different aspects of both physical and mental fitness and also potential operational tasks that could a Commando could potentially find themselves executing.
The first in the Endurance Course, a 4 mile march to the start line followed by a 6 mile cross country run, through under water tunnels, tunnels, up and down steep and undulating terrain and through bogs and over difficult ground. All carrying full fighting order, 21lb and a 9lb rifle. This test was designed for an individual Commando being tasked with linking Companies of Commandos spread across multiple fronts, delivering vital information in case all communications broke down. This is a tough test as it must be completed in 73 minutes.
The second test is a 9 mile speed march, across difficult undulating terrain, carrying full fighting order (21lbs and a 9 lb rifle) in 90 minutes. This test is designed to march a group of Commandos at pace (10 min mile) over 9 miles to then engage an enemy force. Transport (as seen in the Falklands) is not always reliable. Commandos need to be fit enough to cover a large distance and also fight a battle at the end of it.
The third test is the Tarzan Assault Course. An aerial assault course to be completed in 13 minutes carrying full fighting order (21lb and a 9lb rifle). The Tarzan Assault course is designed to test Commandos moving across technical obstacles, at speed and at height, with no safety. This fully tests the Commandos ability to compose themselves and then execute demanding tasks, completely out of their comfort zones.
The fourth and final test is the 30 mile march. A test of mental and physical endurance that sees Commandos march 30 miles across difficult terrain with kit weighing 40lbs plus a 9 lb rifle. This has to be completed in under 8 hours and will result in the volunteers that complete the march receiving their coveted green beret, the symbol of the British Commando.
Ocean Revival 2020 decided that we wanted ordinary people to get a glimpse into what the final test is like, we offered up to 30 civilians on a first come first serve basis, the opportunity to run an authentic RM 30 miler and also raise some money for the Royal Marines Charity, in one of our next blogs, named Ocean Revival 30 Mile March, we will let you know how everyone got on!
Ocean Revival 2020