I’ve found this rather interesting programme on BBC iplayer showing the training of a group of Royal Marines officer trainees undertaking the Commando Commissioning Course at Lympstone.
It’s quite interesting to note the training for officers compared to men – more focus on initiative, not so many extreme bollockings but the same physical and mental tests. As one of the staff mentions, the idea is that the young officers who if they are comissioned will be commanding a platoon of 30 blokes, many of them older, can stand in front of their men and provide a good example and not be embarrased. It’s always intriguing to see the NCO’s staff berating the ‘young gentlemen’, calling them all kinds of things, suffixed with a ‘sir’. But every green beret in the Royal Marines will have done the same training.
I’ve always found the psychological aspect of military training pretty interesting, as it can apply to other fields and professions. The skills of leadership in particular are fascinating – how do you pick out a leader at 18 or 19, from the thousands of applicants? It’s entirely possible that from those humble beginnings, one of them might end up as a Major-General commanding the Corps.
The lad from Barbados attempting the Commando Course during winter in particular seems to have had a pretty tough time!
Click here to watch (UK only)
Thanks to x for pointing out this video.
You’ll often read in Great War history books about how the regular troops of the British Expeditionary Force at Mons in 1914 managed to put out such a rate of fire that the German’s thought that they were being faced with Battalions of Machine Guns. Watch this video and its easy to see how well trained troops could put out some serious lead with an SMLE! Multiply this rate of fire by 1,000 – the strength 0f a Battalion – and you really wouldn’t want to be in the way.
Historically, British marksmanship has always been pretty good compared to other armies. I can remember reading about how even during the Napoleonic War the British Army was the only one that practised with live rounds, and reading the Sharpe novels you get a real sense of how important massed ranks of volley fire were. When you add in the early interest that the British Army took in the Baker rifle, then you also have a heritage of accuracy too.
All this possibly goes some way to explaining why the establishment feared the Machine Gun – the Generals preferred their soldiers to fire deliberate, well aimed shots, making each one count. But, as any good guitar player will tell you, speed is a by product of accuracy – get it right first, and then get it fast. Read Dan Mill’s ‘Sniper One’ about the insurgency in Iraq in 2004, and you’ll see how apparently the insurgents found it seriously uncool to aim their AK47’s, and simply to blaze away from the hip. No wonder during World War Two the Army feared the sub-machine gun – calling them’gangster guns’ – apprehensive that soldiers would begin blasting away like Al Capone!
This culture might also explain why post-WW2 Britain adopted a rifle like the SLR, rather than something like the M16.
Heres a few video’s I’ve seen recently, covering Rock in Helmand Province, another new Destroyer, a 1950’s american political advert, and some rock from an under-rated band.
Helmand Rock Concert
A rock concert? In Helmand?! yep, thats right… It’s got to be a sign that progress is being made in Afghanistan if events like this are allowed to take place. It’s called freedom. Somehow I think it’s something that the Taliban would not tolerate.
HMS Duncan launched
The last of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyers, HMS Duncan, was launched recently in Scotland.
‘I Like Ike‘ advert
I remember watching this advert while studying modern American history for A-level. I’m really not sure what it was about Ike exactly that US voters ‘liked’, but hey ho… I’m British!
Alter Bridge – Open your eyes
My Girlfriend’s made me rediscover this band. Mark Tremonti‘s a great guitarist, and a LOT better than you can hear here!
This is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time. In 1964 military authorities tested the effects of LSD on a section of Royal Marines. As you can see the results were startling or hilarious, depending on your point of view!
And not to be outdone, heres Uncle Sam‘s finest undergoing the same kind of test…
Staus Quo – In the Army Now
Status Quo have re-released their single ‘In the Army Now’, with proceeds going to Help for Heroes and the British Forces Federation. Its a pretty cool video too, with some action footage partly shot at the Tank Museum in Bovington. And look out for the chocolate labrador (scale of issue: optional for infantry officers, mandatory for cavalry officers!)
Heres a few vidoes on youtube that I’ve been watching recently. Enjoy!
HMS Hermes returns from the Falklands
This is a pretty historic piece of footage. Not only does it show the Flagship of the Falklands Task Force returning to Portsmouth, my mum and dad were on one of the black and buff Navy tugs escorting her in! Presented by Michael Buerk and Brian Hanrahan, we see thousands of people gathered on the waterfront at Portsmouth, and there are interviews with Margaret Thatcher, and the Captain Lin Middleton. There are interviews with the crews families at the quayside.
The Somme: From Defeat to Victory
A pretty good documentary about the Battle of the Somme that I’ve just found. It’s refreshingly non ‘Janet and John’ style, which makes a nice change!
Royal Navy Sea Wolf Missile firing
I’ve been having a look at clips of missile firings on youtube, because it occured to me that I write about them a lot, but have never really seen what they look like in evidence! Heres a clip of a Sea Wolf missile firing from a Type 22 Frigate.
Black Label Society – Parade of the Dead (Live)
From the new album, Order of the Black. Zakk Wylde is back to his best!