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Your first day in the army

Your first day in the army is one of those days forever engraved in your memory, along with wedding days, birth of children, first shag etc. For me it was on 7th September 1981 at the Guards Depot. It was a boiling hot day and my abiding memory was being issued with all our kit at the QMs and then being marched at quick time with all our kit to D Lines, a fair distance. What didn´t fit in your army suit case and kit bag, you wore on top of your civvys so that included a rain coat (drill on rainy days for the use of), and old style steel helmet with badly/not fitted liner. A few were ready to jack it in that day.

What are your stand out memories of Day 1?

edited to add photo. Not my Day 1 but maybe @brownhat ‘s!

29F003D6-BF73-4713-AC11-A6867AD544F8.jpeg
 
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I can't remember the exact date, but it was September 1972. I turned up at Queen Elizabeth Bks, Strensall on the date specified (a Friday). I expected to walk march through the gates and be subsumed into a whirlwind of frenzied activity. How wrong I was. After a lot of "hm, ah, hm" at the guard room I was told that my platoon didn't start until Monday and would I like to go home? Fcuk, I thought, I've just left home, how would reappearing the same day look? Wise beyond my years* I realised that the alternative was doing nothing for two days except eat meals, so I elected not to go home. Winner. Then on the Monday . . .

* later on, the years overtook my wisdom.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
You expect me to remember something that happened 54 years ago when I can't recall last nights tea? Harrumph!

Anyhoo, I arrived at Gobowen Station, near Oswestry bound for IJLB. This bunch of boys getting off the train were met by a huge man in No2s with a beret and budgie on it! Sgt Jackson, Welsh Fusiliers. He was very nice and gently got us on to the transport and into camp where we were dropped off at Z Company lines in Park Hall Camp, shown our beds and told to settle in. We did nothing that first day other than eat, meet and sleep as people were arriving all through out the day.

The nice Sgt Jackson the next day showed his real self.............. :( Thus started off my time in green on 10 May 1966.
 

needlewaver

War Hero
29th July 1992, ‘A’ (Peninsula) Troop, Intake 318, Depot RCT; aside from the perpetual smell of polish and despair coupled with a hidden under current of menace, my first haircut stands out.

Having made efforts to get my Inspiral Carpetsesque mop under control, on the basis that I wasn’t joining the Guards or Paras* I settled on a nice conservative short back and sides with side parting.

Imagine the my dismay when invited** to sit in the chair whilst some two hundred year old bloke ran some three hundred year old clippers over my head with a number two guard on. Imagine my further dismay when invited to pay two pounds for his trouble.

I can also remember being stood in the accommodation (2nd floor) watching E Troop rehearsing for passing out under WO2 SSM P*** G****** RCT, when one of the other lads asked “‘oo the bloke with the stick was?”. We all found out fairly shortly.

* - one bloke in my intake did mistakenly arrive at Browning Barracks, not Buller and was fairly far along the induction process when mutual pennies dropped.

** - where “invited” is => than “sit there, you”.
 
I was Infantry (Royal Anglian) TA before I joined the Regs so it wasn't a massive shock, I had to make sure I didn't say very much as I'd already been trained up to a better level than where REME basic was going to go.

Funniest 1st day was going to Knightsbridge to do the Ceremonial Ride training with the Cav while I was waiting to go to trade.

I didn't know there was a small gate on the main road side so me and my Dad rocked up at the Hyde Park gate just after the guard had left, grabbed my suitcase, bimbled in wearing jeans and a T Shirt and asked for the guardroom. I think they were so shocked that I didn't even get a bollocking.
 
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29th July 1992, ‘A’ (Peninsula) Troop, Intake 318, Depot RCT; aside from the perpetual smell of polish and despair coupled with a hidden under current of menace, my first haircut stands out.

Having made efforts to get my Inspiral Carpetsesque mop under control, on the basis that I wasn’t joining the Guards or Paras* I settled on a nice conservative short back and sides with side parting.

Imagine the my dismay when invited** to sit in the chair whilst some two hundred year old bloke ran some three hundred year old clippers over my head with a number two guard on. Imagine my further dismay when invited to pay two pounds for his trouble.

I can also remember being stood in the accommodation (2nd floor) watching E Troop rehearsing for passing out under WO2 SSM P*** G****** RCT, when one of the other lads asked “‘oo the bloke with the stick was?”. We all found out fairly shortly.

* - one bloke in my intake did mistakenly arrive at Browning Barracks, not Buller and was fairly far along the induction process when mutual pennies dropped.

** - where “invited” is => than “sit there, you”.

Not sure if we had our haircut on day 1 or 2. But hairdressing was still a trade carried out by serving soldiers at the Depot. You can imagine they weren’t exactly fliers and being nice to new recruits was not in their job description.
 
My first day of basic has long since faded from memory... this is all I can remember.

The nasty shouty man came in and woke us all up in the middle of the night (at about 0630 I think)...

I thought to myself "WTF have I done?"

After 27 years Regular and TA I have some fond memories so I guess it couldn't have been all bad! ;-)
 

partyr

Old-Salt
29 February 1988, smartly dressed in my one of my old mans suits, light luggage with various bits that I had been advised to take by the recruiter. On the train bound to Darlington, met another lad from my hometown who was also suitably booted. On arrival in Darlington loaded onto 2 4T Bedfords for my future to Cambrai Barracks, Catterick. All the other oiks on board dressed in various apparel. There proceeded some of the best moments in my lifetime. Never to forget that experience.
 
Joining as a boy in the mid 60's I don't remember what actually happened on the first - or next few days, but what I do remember is hearing all the strange accents. What really stuck was an Indian lad who spoke with a Scottish accent...
 
18 Sep 1989, Helles Barracks Catterick, my intake was the last ever Junior Signallers to go through there.

Living in Selby at the time, it was only about an hour on the train to Darlington where I was met by one of our Troop Cpl's, who was in civvies and had a beard - which I thought was a bit odd - I later found out he was in the process of handing over some sneaky beaky type job over the water, so we didn't see much of him for the first month!

Anyway, like most - day one was fairly gentle, but my abiding memory was that I was the first to be sent to the land of stripey sunshine on day 3, for having a crafty fag in the toilets, as we weren't allowed out for one at the time. I met the 3 headed bumper, which wasn't fun, although that wasn't my only date with that little minx!

Happy times.
 

Issi

War Hero
My first night in Winchester.

Big old Welsh full screw marched in to our room, turned the lights on and shouted-

"Which one of you is Issi? Get up to my room NOW!"

I thought " I've only been in about 8 hrs, I can't have messed up already!

So, threw some shorts on and doubled upstairs to the Cpl's office.

"Get in here, and close the effing door behind you!"

The minute the door shut, he completely transformed and said-
"Sit down butt, whereabouts in Swansea are you from?"

Turns out he lived about 2 miles from me, and we knew some of the same people.
i thought that our shared Celtic heritage would stand me in good stead for the next few weeks, I was sadly mistaken.

Nice bloke though, Cpl Cox RAPC.
 
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Joining as a boy in the mid 60's I don't remember what actually happened on the first - or next few days, but what I do remember is hearing all the strange accents. What really stuck was an Indian lad who spoke with a Scottish accent...
My abiding memory of day 1 at the Army Apprentices College, Harrogate was being placed in our 8 man room and being introduced to my fellow recruit troop colleagues and our room NCO, an AT who was in 4th or 5th term. I was a West Cumbrian lad with an incomprehensible accent, there were 5 lads from Liverpool (4 red, 1 blue) a lad from Huddersfield and the room NCO (SSgt Kev Froggett, subsequently murdered in NI by the IRA - RIP) was a Derby lad I believe. Us recruits spent quite a bit of time that day taking the piss out of our accents - I got a lot of stick from the Scousers!
My other memories of that day include being amazed by the quality and quantity of food in the cookhouse and quietly crying myself to sleep that night.
Many, many wonderful memories and a number of regrets since that day back in September 1971.
 
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BratMedic

LE
Book Reviewer
August 1963, Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham.
"This drill square is the biggest in Southern Command, do not go/walk/bimble/stroll on it without permission, you have been warned! Now! to the Quartermasters stores with the speed of a thousand gazelles.... GO!
 

Who_Dat

Clanker
Not Army, but RAF.

Arrive at RAF Swinderby, June 1972 after being bussed from the local station.

About 100 of us are herded together in one of the big "H" block barrack rooms by a couple of corporals and in stomps the unforgettable Sgt Bastable (no sniggers). He yells us to attention and in saunters a Flt Lt to give us a pep talk.
After the officer departs Sgt Bastable asks how many of us have been in any of the cadet forces and been to summer camp. I and a few other put our hands up and he picks four of us and says "You are now room leaders, take these lanyards and wear them at all times. I'll march you down to the bedding stores, draw bedding, march them back and show them how to make a bed pack for tomorrow morning at 6am".

I thought 'shit', I've only been here ten minutes, been given promotion and responsibility for twenty-four blokes!
As Auld Yin mentioned above, we were given the rest of the day off... then next morning the fun began.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Not sure if we had our haircut on day 1 or 2. But hairdressing was still a trade carried out by serving soldiers at the Depot. You can imagine they weren’t exactly fliers and being nice to new recruits was not in their job description.
I had my hair cut at Recruit Selection Centre Sutton Coldfield. Twice, in 1975. First time I took my head cut nicely short back and sides. at RSC it was cut to within an inch of my life. But that was to be expected. We got to opt to spend an afternoon on an indoor range with .22" rifles. After ACF, cheers easy. Being overqualified for RAC, I was put on a train to RMPTC Chichester. Where I'd missed the first intake of the year." Here's a week's pay and a travel warrant. Come back Sunday week for Monday morning."

Having told RMP where they could shove their truncheons and the sun didn't shine, after 88 wasted but pensionable days I flounced under Discharge as a Statutory Right between 8 weeks and three months of starting training (I'd taken my papers with me).

Seven months after I'd left Sutton Coldfield, I passed through the doors again. Astonished that they remembered me. I presumed they looked at everyone's notes. This time I knew they'd shear my skull anyway. It hadn't grown back to 70s standard anyway. Wednesday afternoon, who wants to do rifle shoo... Looks at me. You're doing rifle shooting. I was exempt everything else anyway because this time I'd brought a cast iron guarantee for 15/19H, so three days at Sutton Coldfield were a doss.

Friday. Train to Catterick. Into Cambrai barracks with two others. Allocated bedspace. To bedding store for bedding, then clothing store. Because I'd done it before, I let the other excited two go first. Intake started Monday. This made me last into the intake. Because of future events, I can claim to be the last member of the RAC not to be issued Barrack Dress Trousers (until they were withdrawn, obviously.)
 
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Gout Man

LE
Book Reviewer
Can’t remember much, Feb 1978 Guards Depot, travelled down from Sutton Coldfield where I made my first mistake insisting on joining The Grenadier Guards instead of taking an officers advice of joining The RE or REME.
Bussed from that small train station seeing a pub and thinking if only it were open. Then arriving at Pirbright The Guards Depot. Showed to our room, no on suite facilities and what twenty - twenty four to a room, no carpet just a black Lino floor, I couldnt help but notice the smell of paint, how kind they have just refurbished the place.
Next day and for the next several days we spent on our hands and knees rubbing off the spatters of paint with wire wool that the decorators kindly left for us.
We had our hair cuts as well during this settling in period, which was nice, the man said would you like anything on it, I said a pair of knickers you’ve made me look like a righ Cnut.*
We were not issued with our kit till about the fourth day.
Why oh why did I put up with such crap? Pride I suppose.


*Not quite true but I did look like like a Cnut.
 
20 man dorm in D lines (Asbestos ridden shithole) in Pirbright in Aug 1995
Being a pad brats I knew the ranks and I knew to remember my regimental number. Which took the pressure of me a bit when other people were getting screamed at for not knowing their number or calling the NCOs by the wrong rank.
Packing all our civvies except boxer shorts and wash kit up and being told we wouldn't be seeing that again until the free weekend 5 weeks later or when we were kicked out, whichever was sooner.
Been given a set of coveralls, one size fits no one, because you didn't get your uniform until the next day. Going on parade (in the stylish coveralls) and 30 plus people marching at 30 plus different paces.
Nearly punching out an 18 year old "old sweat" who had been in the Army a whole 6 weeks and had a red tag on his shoulder (Yellow tags for those who had done under 5 weeks). Thought he was the dogs bollocks until I offered him out.
Checking out the bints, referred to as split arses by the Cpls in my Troop (It was mixed training at the time)

All on the first day.

Naturally it didn't take long before I was taking the pressure of everyone else by constantly being in the shit.
 

CanteenCowboy

LE
Book Reviewer
Most abiding memory of first day was somebody in another section, wanted to go to a Lowland regiment, drank half a bottle of Brasso and ran head first into one of the fire doors. He spent the next seven days in coveralls alternating between the Med Centre and the promised land of the Provost staff before being discharged. The first three days passed in a blur really, only noticed that one person as he’d been attested on the same day as me in the Careers Office in Glasgow. This was in July 1988.
 
My abiding memory of day 1 at the Army Apprentices College, Harrogate was being placed in our 8 man room and being introduced to my fellow recruit troop colleagues and our room NCO, an AT who was in 4th or 5th term. I was a West Cumbrian lad with an incomprehensible accent, there were 5 lads from Liverpool (4 red, 1 blue) a lad from Huddersfield and the room NCO (subsequently murdered in NI by the IRA) was a Yorkshireman I believe. Us recruits spent quite a bit of time that day taking the piss out of our accents - I got a lot of stick from the Scousers!
My other memories of that day include being amazed by the quality and quantity of food in the cookhouse and quietly crying myself to sleep that night.
Many, many wonderful memories and a number of regrets since that day back in September 1971.
Day 1 at the AAC and arrived first and spent the afternoon in the HQ looking wide eyed, until the next transport pitched up and was assigned to a room with the new arrivals. Have to say, the first night was fine, but the tension definetly increased by the end of week one and was feeling very wobbly.
 
Sept 1983 16 yrs old AACHarrogate. My abiding memories are the conveyer belt in the gym, hair chopped, uniform thrown at you. Off to you lines.

Proper first day, being doubled at oh Christ hundred hours to the cookhouse in PT Kit, black plimsoles & flasher mac.

The amount of food on offer was impressive but unfortunately finding out leisurely breakfasts were a thing of the past. One mouthful & every body out.

Oh, and to this day I’d like to meet the cretin who decided to put 17 & 18 yr olds apprentices in charge of 16 yr old recruits. The absolute fcuking idiot...
 

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