WEEK 22: Birthday time!

· Turned 22 on week 22
· Division Curry Night
· Regimental Visits
· Pistol Ranges

Week 22, I turned 22. The last three birthdays I had were spent at uni, with the rugby lads on a bar crawl in fancy dress, then onto a club to dance the night away. My 21st birthday I remember for scoring the winning try in a very important game. Now usually most people would say that any of these are very satisfactory birthdays. On my 22nd, I woke up at 5am, did some physical training and then went to breakfast. Sounds pretty poo? Well, afterwards I then spent time on the pistol range, then went onto the rifle range and got full marks on the mock ACMT (Annual Combat Marksmanship Test), then we had a fascinating lecture on British units in Normandy in 1944. Now, this is going up as one of the better birthdays I have had! To top the day off, one of the Infantry Divisions I am hoping to join held a curry night, not in celebration for my birthday, although that would have been a nice gesture! When I came back to my room my friends had got me a birthday cake and some cufflinks. This is now one of my favourite birthdays.

For those who are wondering what an Infantry Division is, they are a group of regiments who have decided that they share similarities. At Sandhurst they are particularly important as a lot of the RSB process (Regimental Selection Board) is done through divisions and not regiments. An example would be the Kings Division (LANCS & YORKS) or the Queens Division (PWRR, RRF, R ANGLIAN & GIB REG). They are not combat organisation, more administrative and exist purely in infantry formations.

As highlighted before we also had more Faraday Hall sessions on the combat units in the Normandy Campaign, again enjoyable. One of our Colour Serjeants highlighted at the end how many of the problems that were faced by the allied forces during the campaign are still faced by NATO forces now. That made the lessons even more pertinent.

There was also another set of Regimental visits. These are tremendous fun and really remind you why you decided to join the army; for me, it’s to serve soldiers. Soldiers are a scarcity at Sandhurst, it is very rare to meet anyone below sergeant, and even that is limited to the Signals Wing. All of my friends from school joined as Private Soldiers, so I find being around Soldiers a fare site more comfortable than Senior Officers.

So on the visits it is important to mingle with the lads as they are ultimately the people who decide the outcome of your career. We enjoy hearing what they get up to and ask thousands of questions about what they want from a platoon commander, and in return, they want to know what Officer training is really about. It has been a tremendous week, but, Ex Slim’s Stand is lurking…