Initial processing involved Steve dropping his bag off in a billet and being issued with a uniform. He was given black boots, green trousers, a sweater with patches on the elbows and shoulders, T-shirts and a combat jacket. In between initial training runs, they were shown how to wear the uniform properly, polish boots, wash clothes, shave and personal hygiene. The training staff wore their smart maroon berets while the recruits wore camouflage caps. There were lectures on rifles and the recruits were told the training would focus on physical fitness. The recruits’ ability to operate outside their comfort zone would be tested during P Company. The few recruits who passed would then serve in the regiment.
Apart from runs and gym work, the training also involved marching on a parade square, weapon training, map reading and how to survive in the wilderness. They spent time away from the barracks living in a forest where they spread camouflage cream on their faces and learned how to move quietly, set up shelters and cook. Steve made friends with other recruits and got into the training. It was hard work, but he got fitter and learned new things every day. Sometimes they would go on long runs wearing webbing to carry weight. Other times they were taught how to fire various guns, arm and throw grenades, as well as use a bayonet.
Just before the final tests to join the Paras, the recruits were given leave. Some stayed in the barracks, but Steve decided to get on a train and spend a weekend in the Snook. While on a night out, he saw his old friend Scotty who smiled and nodded. But, as Steve approached, he saw Scotty was with Barry Groate. They knew Steve was training for the Paras and Groate sneered over that Steve was a “Parrot,” chortling that the Paras were stupid and could only repeat things like a parrot. Steve stopped and glared at Groate, who turned away and smirked. Scotty looked down. Steve left the pub and headed back to the barracks in the morning.
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