State of fitness

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by OldRedCap, Oct 31, 2005.

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  1. Obviously and correctly, physical fitness has a high priority in today's Army. I left in mid-70s after full term + and fitness was not then a priority. Annual test was easy. No regular training that was fitness-oriented.
    My grandfather in 1900s worked on 'eat and drink with men, sleep with women and pray to God to keep your bowels open' My pre-39 Regular uncles seemed to rely on long route marches but just that - not tabbling by any means. There were still some Arnhem guys in at my time and they said that determination not to be beaten was main factor in that time. I.e. - spirit not physique. Same sort of thing from ex-Jap POW. They said desired fitness came just from surviving.
    So - what brought about this drive to fitness? Spread from jogging into HM Forces? Some blokes arriving fat and unfit in Falklands? We now have a more mechanised set-up so old (mostly ignored) idea from my time that you had to run to get away from enemy does not hold water.
  2. I was REME.
    I worked for many Boss's from all depts of the Army.
    I never could understand how it took 18 weeks ? to make a Marine and yet their Boss expected Spanner Man to perform like one from day one.
  3. its also go something to do with changing society, in your grandfather/great grandfathers time how readily available was burger king / sams kebab house? how large were the portions (especially during the war periods)

    People at these time generally led a much more active lifestyle as the luxuries that we and all soldiers enjoy today just were'nt available.

    So even though they say that there was'nt a drive for PT like there is today (which is a good thing IMO) does'nt necessarily mean that they were unfit, its just changing society that has led to the sorry state of affairs that we see today in terms of the general publics fitness.

    Diet was also a factor for these people, like I said, there was'nt the freely available crap food like we have today, people tended to eat REAL food (not processed crap), 5 veg a day etc, all factors towards a soldiers fitness.

    In terms of why? - do you (or the government for that matter) want to see fat soldiers? If you go on operations and a patrol goes tits up then you'd want to be able to rely on the fitness of the chap next to you to be able to get you out of the situation as opposed to "sorry boss, I'm not fit enough".


  4. OldRedCap,

    I reckon it was NI and Op Banner. As the commitment increased massively in the early 70s and units other than infantry were sent, it was quickly obvious that cavalry and gunner units were not as fit. The requirement for fitter soldiers led to the bi-annual Battle Fitness Test in the mid 70s, which was the start of the conversion of the Army to "a bunch of middle distance runners"! I think that, up to then, all that was required was an annual Combat Fitness Test, which was relatively easy.

    I cannot remember what the details for the BFT were, but 0.5 mile warm up in 5 mins and 1.5 miles in 10m30s for Under 30 yrs springs to mind. And that was in boots, puttees and lightweights. For the life of me, I cannot remember the CFT details but they were roughly 8 miles in under 2hrs in full kit (green battledress, puttees and 37 pattern webbing), carrying 25lbs plus personal weapon. Oh and your webbing was weighed at the end once you had consumed your water!

    There were certainly a lot of unfit characters around in the 70s, but whether that was from too much beer and bratwurst, or from injury, I remember not! Quite a few saw the writing on the wall in the late 70s and grabbed redundancy when offered. I lost three of my bosses in a small unit in very quick order.

    And don't forget that very few soldiers owned cars in those days; we all walked everywhere!

    Litotes - still running and 10m 30s is still within my reach on a good day - but in trainers!