A 24-year-old Territorial Army soldier from Horfield has made a perfect start towards achieving his big ambition – earning the Commando Green Beret with its distinctive dagger insignia.
Three months after joining Bath-based 131 Independent Commando Squadron, Sapper Will Wingfield completed the basic training course so successfully that he won the ‘top student’ award.
Will, who works as a graduate trainee at MoD Abbey Wood, attended Loughborough University before moving to Bristol. “At one stage, I considered a career in the Regular Army,” he said. “Then the Civil Service opportunity arose and the part-time option of the TA has proved a great choice.
“I chose 131 Squadron because of its reputation and, of course, for the chance to wear the beret.”
Now comes the biggest challenge, hopefully later this year – the Commando Course, featuring a nine-mile speed march inside 90 minutes carrying full fighting order, a six-mile endurance course through rough terrain, the infamous Tarzan assault course and, finally, a 30-mile yomp across Dartmoor carrying a weapon and 30lbs of kit, to be completed inside eight hours.
The Bath unit give combat engineer support to 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, in specialist areas such as demolition, bridge building, mine warfare, field engineering, water supply and force protection. It has soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan, with possibly more to follow later this year.
Recruitment has gone well recently, although there are always opportunities for ambitious newcomers. “We are looking for people with a good level of fitness because obviously we have to be a little more selective than other TA units,” said troop commander Lieutenant Chris Harvey, a 25-year-old Bristol-based civil servant.
“But recruits don’t have to be the finished article. We will give them the training they need and, as long as they are committed and willing to put in plenty of work in their spare time, we will get them through it.”
131 Independent Commando Squadron train on Tuesday evenings at Bath TA Centre. For more information go to www.army.mod.uk/131cdo or www.facebook.com/131cdo or call 01225 427747.