Infantry Training in the 1970s & 1980s

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
Dear all,

I was watching the 'Paras' series on YouTube recently and its mention of training cadres like 'Baby Wales' got me wondering about what were the phases for Infantry recruits in the pre-CIC days.

After 2002, Phase 1 & 2 training was combined and conducted entirely at ITC Catterick, but I remember that before that date recruits were trained at various ATRs (Divisional Depots) for 12 weeks as Phase 1 prior to going to Catterick for Phase 2. I know that before 1995, there had actually been two additional Infantry Training Battalion sites as well. My question is, what happened before that? Was all the training carried out at Divisional depots, or did everyone do 'Baby Wales' (was there a proper name)?

All just idle curiosity on a lazy Sunday, but thanks for info.
 

CanteenCowboy

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
I went through training in 1988, all of it conducted at SDD Glencorse. Had various phases of training, which culminated in a Battle Camp split into Exercise and LFTT phases. My training cycle was interrupted by a Home Defence Exercise where we were dragged off into the Borders somewhere and carried out a Defence Exercise of some vital point which meant our training cycle was two weeks longer than everyone else going through SDD at the time.
 
#3
Dear all,

I was watching the 'Paras' series on YouTube recently and its mention of training cadres like 'Baby Wales' got me wondering about what were the phases for Infantry recruits in the pre-CIC days.

After 2002, Phase 1 & 2 training was combined and conducted entirely at ITC Catterick, but I remember that before that date recruits were trained at various ATRs (Divisional Depots) for 12 weeks as Phase 1 prior to going to Catterick for Phase 2. I know that before 1995, there had actually been two additional Infantry Training Battalion sites as well. My question is, what happened before that? Was all the training carried out at Divisional depots, or did everyone do 'Baby Wales' (was there a proper name)?

All just idle curiosity on a lazy Sunday, but thanks for info.
Dering lines was once known as Para Regt Battle School, basic trg was done in Aldershot then down to Brecon to the Battle School for advanced trg, you wore a blue shoulder tab for basic and a red tab for advanced, hope that helps.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#4
I went through training in 1988, all of it conducted at SDD Glencorse. Had various phases of training, which culminated in a Battle Camp split into Exercise and LFTT phases. My training cycle was interrupted by a Home Defence Exercise where we were dragged off into the Borders somewhere and carried out a Defence Exercise of some vital point which meant our training cycle was two weeks longer than everyone else going through SDD at the time.
Go on, admit it - you were back squadded!

I spent the grand total of eight days at Glencorse as I had just passed out of IJLB. One week then off to Osnabruck.
 
#6
Started at Queen's Div Depot at Bassingbourn in October 1976 - 18 weeks basic training. Normandy Platoon, living in the crappy white huts opposite the Guardroom by the main gate.

Can't remember too much detail - apart from thinking "WTF have I let myself in for?" on the first morning when the duty screw came round at stupid o'clock to get everyone up.

Highlights included:

Lots of PT and fitness. The perimeter track round the airfield (Bassinbourn had been a bomber base for the Americans during WW2) became very familiar as we usually doubled round it in CEFO with weapons at least a couple of times a week.

Bash week - spread over 4-5 days. Platoon tabs in full kit (including 58 pattern large pack containing a medicine ball).
Day 1: 3 miler
Day 2: 5 miler
Day 3: 7 miler
Day 4: 10 miler
These usually started by the trainasium thingy at the camp, then set off round the perimeter track to a back gate and then out into the countryside before returning to the camp.

Log Race - 1 mile course (including part of the assault course) or thereabouts with a 4 man team carrying a effing big log. This was in the January (1977). The ice on the water obstacles was 2" thick - we had to throw the log in to break the ice and jump in afterwards. Due to an odd number of blokes in the platoon on the day my group consisted on three men. It was so cold however that it gave a sense of ugency to get the race over asap.

Trench Week - 5 days living in two man fighting trenches (which we had to dig first) on Stanford TA in January 1977. Worst part was being run ragged on night patrols and then freezing on stag back in the trenches afterwards. Don't forget to fill the trenches in afterwards - oh joy.

Battle Camp - a week at Warcop in February. Live firing everything from SMG to the 84mm (my ears are still ringing from that one). Transport to take us from the camp to the firing point, but all other movement around the ranges was on foot, usually folowed by a tab back to the camp. This was the hardest part of the training for me.

Battle Camp also included a final exercise consisting of an advance to contact across (IIRC) eight miles of Yorkshire Moors near Catterick, followed (after a rest of one hour while it got dark) a night tab across the mmors in a rainstorm which soon turned into a blizzard. We tabbed until the early hours of the following day until the DS called a halt due to the plummeting temerature and the fact that a couple the lads were going down with hypothermia. We spent a couple of hours in a nearby abandoned barn while the transport tipped up. IIRC the total distance covered from the start of the advance to contact to the final halt was about 21 miles.

We had a good end of basic training piss up however - my section won the best section competition (we all got stable belts for our respective regiments as prizes - everyone else had to buy them!).

We did however have some very good Corporals from the Royal Anglians, RRF and Queen's Regt as instructors - they set me a good example to follow in my later career. Just what you need as a young soldier IMHO.

Hope this helps.

:)
 

CanteenCowboy

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
Go on, admit it - you were back squadded!

I spent the grand total of eight days at Glencorse as I had just passed out of IJLB. One week then off to Osnabruck.
My whole Platoon, being the senior platoon were attached to a TA Coy (they may have had a HSF Pl), after four days of training in Glencorse, we got sent to the Borders. It was somewhere North of Berwick, and all I remember was it faced into the North Sea. Some of the static positions were camouflaged with the big round hay bales that farmers have in their fields at that time of year. It was bitterly cold and until I went to Med Man 7 in BATUS I never knew cold like it.
 
#10
Thanks @Rodney2q! I take it that the 18 weeks was just one long slog rather than broken down into Phase 1 & 2?
I think it had several phases but not specifically stated as such.

The first bit lasted 4 weeks from the beginning of November, and covered the basics of military life, drill, kit issues and initial weapon handling. During this period we were confined to barracks. One we passed this phase were had a long weekend leave and were allowed out of barracks in our own time (ie saturday nights and sundays if we weren't training).

The second part lasted until late January or early February and covered most of the wpn handling (SMG, SLR, GPMG, 2" Mortar, 66mm LAW and 84mm LAW, plus grenades), section and platoon tactics, radio, NBC, fieldcraft etc, plus lots of fitness training. This included a week's leave over Christmas). IIRC Bash Week and Trench Week were both in this part of the training.

The final part put everything we had been taught into practice with the final exercises and Battle Camp, plus fitting for No2's and extra drill in preparatrion for the Passing Off parade. Not all of use were posted striaght off to our Bns - a few (myself included) were kept on for a couple of weeks for some reason (due to our fist postings being straight to NI. During this time we were kept busy with extra fitness training, weapon handling (including the 9mm pistol this time). Very little BS this time though - and we were alowed to wear stable belts to diferentiate us from the recruits still in training.

From Basic I was posted to 2 Queens at Bulford, along with two other lads. The Bn was on Belfast at that time. We arrived in Bulford on a Friday, reported to OC rear Party and were sent home on leave until Monday. Reported back and we were shipped off to Belfast on the Tuesday.
 
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jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
#11
Started at Queen's Div Depot at Bassingbourn in October 1976 - 18 weeks basic training. Normandy Platoon, living in the crappy white huts opposite the Guardroom by the main gate.

Can't remember too much detail - apart from thinking "WTF have I let myself in for?" on the first morning when the duty screw came round at stupid o'clock to get everyone up.

Highlights included:

Lots of PT and fitness. The perimeter track round the airfield (Bassinbourn had been a bomber base for the Americans during WW2) became very familiar as we usually doubled round it in CEFO with weapons at least a couple of times a week.

Bash week - spread over 4-5 days. Platoon tabs in full kit (including 58 pattern large pack containing a medicine ball).
Day 1: 3 miler
Day 2: 5 miler
Day 3: 7 miler
Day 4: 10 miler
These usually started by the trainasium thingy at the camp, then set off round the perimeter track to a back gate and then out into the countryside before returning to the camp.

Log Race - 1 mile course (including part of the assault course) or thereabouts with a 4 man team carrying a effing big log. This was in the January (1977). The ice on the water obstacles was 2" thick - we had to throw the log in to break the ice and jump in afterwards. Due to an odd number of blokes in the platoon on the day my group consisted on three men. It was so cold however that it gave a sense of ugency to get the race over asap.

Trench Week - 5 days living in two man fighting trenches (which we had to dig first) on Stanford TA in January 1977. Worst part was being run ragged on night patrols and then freezing on stag back in the trenches afterwards. Don't forget to fill the trenches in afterwards - oh joy.

Battle Camp - a week at Warcop in February. Live firing everything from SMG to the 84mm (my ears are still ringing from that one). Transport to take us from the camp to the firing point, but all other movement around the ranges was on foot, usually folowed by a tab back to the camp. This was the hardest part of the training for me.

Battle Camp also included a final exercise consisting of an advance to contact across (IIRC) eight miles of Yorkshire Moors near Catterick, followed (after a rest of one hour while it got dark) a night tab across the mmors in a rainstorm which soon turned into a blizzard. We tabbed until the early hours of the following day until the DS called a halt due to the plummeting temerature and the fact that a couple the lads were going down with hypothermia. We spent a couple of hours in a nearby abandoned barn while the transport tipped up. IIRC the total distance covered from the start of the advance to contact to the final halt was about 21 miles.

We had a good end of basic training piss up however - my section won the best section competition (we all got stable belts for our respective regiments as prizes - everyone else had to buy them!).

We did however have some very good Corporals from the Royal Anglians, RRF and Queen's Regt as instructors - they set me a good example to follow in my later career. Just what you need as a young soldier IMHO.

Hope this helps.

:)
The weather seemingly was planned just like good weather is for any outside broadcast on British TV.
 
#12
For me, infantry training in the early 70's was done in the Army Cadets two evenings a week and most weekends. Plus Annual Camps and Easter Camps.
 
#13
I did two years at JIB at Shorncliffe as a boy soldier from 15 years of age starting in 1971 until I left there as a seventeen year old. Apart from the fact that they threw in a bit of education (which nobody was really interested in), it was two years of across the board infantry skills training.

I then went to depot at Winchester for six weeks which consisted of learning Light Division drill, doing two weeks at Sennybridge and then the passing out parade. I was basically put onto the last six weeks of the then current training platoon.

As I recall it, people who joined into adult service went to their regimental depot and did a six month training course designed to give them all the basic skills for infantry soldiering.

All this phase one and two etc were not something that I remember at all.
 
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#14
Dear all,

I was watching the 'Paras' series on YouTube recently and its mention of training cadres like 'Baby Wales' got me wondering about what were the phases for Infantry recruits in the pre-CIC days.

After 2002, Phase 1 & 2 training was combined and conducted entirely at ITC Catterick, but I remember that before that date recruits were trained at various ATRs (Divisional Depots) for 12 weeks as Phase 1 prior to going to Catterick for Phase 2. I know that before 1995, there had actually been two additional Infantry Training Battalion sites as well. My question is, what happened before that? Was all the training carried out at Divisional depots, or did everyone do 'Baby Wales' (was there a proper name)?

All just idle curiosity on a lazy Sunday, but thanks for info.
At that time, all RGJ Adult Recruit Training was based in the Rifle Depot, Peninsula Bks, in the lovely town of Winchester ..the Camp was pretty much just a 5 minute walk from the center of town .

Apart for the odd days & night out of camp doing field craft, the main events were a week battle camp at Browndown probably on week 5 or 6? and the main event was a 2 week battle camp at Brecon which was week 16 and 17 live firing 4 days ex - loads of tabbing including combined E & E/30 miler .....week 18 was final BFT, ICFT , TOET'S and APWT all had to be passed in order to pass out ..then 2 week leave..then off to join Bn ..wherever that may be.
 
#15
I did two years at JIB at Shorncliffe as a boy soldier from 15 years of age starting in 1971 until I left there as a seventeen year old. Apart from the fact that they threw in a bit of education (which nobody was really interested in), it was two years of across the board infantry skills training.

I then went to depot at Winchester for six weeks which consisted of learning Light Division drill, doing two weeks at Sennybridge and then the passing out parade. I was basically put onto the last six weeks of the then current training platoon.

As I recall it, people who joined into adult service went to their regimental depot and did a six month training course designed to give them all the basic skills for infantry soldiering.

All this phase one and two etc were not something that I remember at all.

Yep, in 1977, it was pretty much the same for us boy soldiers of JR Coy (Junior Rifleman's Company) - not IJLB - who were actually based in the Rifle Depot, and like you , joined an existing Adult Platoon for the last 6 weeks or so.

Due to this, you did get the weird coincidence, as in my case, of boy soldiers passing out as adults at only 2 months older than you could could officially join as an Adult......ISTR that you had to be 17 and 3 months to enlist as an adult whereas i actually passed out a month before i was 17 and a half.
 
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#16
Yep, in 1977, it was pretty much the same for us boy soldiers of JR Coy (Junior Rifleman's Company) - not IJLB - who were actually based in the Rifle Depot, and like you , joined an existing Adult Platoon for the last 6 weeks or so.

Due to this, you did get the weird coincidence, as in my case, of boy soldiers passing out as adults at only 2 months older than you could could officially join as an Adult......ISTR that you had to be 17 and 3 months to enlist as an adult whereas i actually passed out at before i was 17 and a half.
Exactly the same as me. After leave, I joined 1RGJ in Celle, Germany who were actually on tour in Belfast so I kicked my heels on rear party for a couple of months until my 18th birthday.

My 18th birthday was on Friday the 19th October 1973 and I had a beery stripper filled night with an abundance of porn films thrown in at the legendary Tuefel in Celle followed up by a great weekend in the Celle bars. Finding myself on Monday morning being driven from Aldergove to Albert Street Mill was a total crock to be honest!
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
#17
Exactly the same as me. After leave, I joined 1RGJ in Celle, Germany who were actually on tour in Belfast so I kicked my heels on rear party for a couple of months until my 18th birthday.

My 18th birthday was on Friday the 19th October 1973 and I had a beery stripper filled night with an abundance of porn films thrown in at the legendary Tuefel in Celle followed up by a great weekend in the Celle bars. Finding myself on Monday morning being driven from Aldergove to Albert Street Mill was a total crock to be honest!
We had a guy at 1RGJ when we toured in 90-91, who wasn't quite 18 when we landed so they kept him at Drumadd as a runner, not allowed to leave camp at all. The RHQ clerks organised a party for him in the NAAFI, just as he got a mouthful of his first legal beer, he was grabbed from behind and dragged to a waiting helicopter and taken to one of the Golf towers for the remainder of the tour!
 
#18
I joined 2 RGJ in Tidders within weeks of them getting back from completing a winter tour of South Armagh ..where they had lost a much respected CO and a Rifleman from B Coy RIP....they were lean, mean and i was super nig..not even 18!

What saved me was that the platoon i joined were mostly Londoners like me plus the fact that they were going through a Bn wide upgrading cadre. If you remember, while a Recruit you were a grade 4 soldier - then grade 3 on pass out?...being straight from 'Depot' i was expected to be super keen, super fit and a good shot....the year as a boy soldier made sure i was was, so i did well and was accepted as 'a good lad'......got no grief at all ..probably because some of then were only a year older than me anyway.

It was a good platoon and company to be in.
 
#19
At that time, all RGJ Adult Recruit Training was based in the Rifle Depot, Peninsula Bks, in the lovely town of Winchester ..the Camp was pretty much just a 5 minute walk from the center of town .

Apart for the odd days & night out of camp doing field craft, the main events were a week battle camp at Browndown probably on week 5 or 6? and the main event was a 2 week battle camp at Brecon which was week 16 and 17 live firing 4 days ex - loads of tabbing including combined E & E/30 miler .....week 18 was final BFT, ICFT , TOET'S and APWT all had to be passed in order to pass out ..then 2 week leave..then off to join Bn ..wherever that may be.
And Sleepers hill!
 

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