Royal Marines


Where the Green Beret is earnt


Lympstone Camp was built during 1939 for the training of Reservists in the build up at the beginning of the Second World War. At that time it was known as the Royal Marines Reserve Depot, Exton. However, a year later it received its first name change and became known as the Royal Marine Depot for the training of all Royal Marine recruits.
On Friday 5th September 1941 and it officially became known as the Royal Marine Depot, Lympstone. (Although it was referred to by several different names during the Second World War). However, by the end of the war it was commonly known or referred to as Lympstone.
The original RMITC training school at that time comprised of 17 weeks training incorporated into 2 phases, and was carried out at the Dalditch camp.
The course comprised of kitting up, lectures (including Corps history), PT, drill, bayonet fighting, basic small arms and Bren Gun drills, and the receiving of many injections. Followed by the assault course, advanced weapon training, range work, night firing and field-craft, involving cooking and survival. The last week of which was usually spent under canvas near the village of Ottery St Mary during the latter stages of the Dalditch era.
Friday 1st November 1946 and the Dalditch camp was closed down. Phase 1 of the training was moved to Depot Deal for both Continuous Service and National Service recruits. Phase 2 was moved to Lympstone along with a name change to that of ‘Infantry Training Centre Royal Marines’ (ITCRM).
Marine Smith-Howell from Sussex was recorded as the first 'recruit' to sign in at Lympstone, although it is extremely doubtful that he was actually the first to pass through the main gate once the camp was set up.
It's estimated that once the camp was up and running and at full capacity that between 1000 and 1500 recruits were under training at any given time.
Upon completion of training at Lympstone some Marines went on to the Bickleigh Infantry School for specialisation or to the Commando Training Centre at Towyn (N Wales) which for a short time had taken over the role from Achnacarry in Scotland before it too eventually closed down.
Early in 1951 the Officer Training Wing moved to Lympstone from Bickleigh Infantry School. There were just six men in the first intake, two of whom were Corps Commission candidates and parachutists, and were joined later by further batches totalling a complement of 40.
During February 1960 the SNCOs Training Wing and Specialised Training moved to Lympstone, followed by the Commando Specialist Training in April, which included Heavy Weapons, Cliff Assault, and Assault Engineers. These bodies joined up with the resident 'X' Troop to form a new Commando Training Wing centred on the old 'C' Company Lines. Previously there had been four recruit companies, A, B, C and D; of these only A and C survived, with the former as the National Service Company, but to make way for the new units these then amalgamated into a single Recruit Training Wing in February.
During 1950's and early 1960's the accommodation for the recruits was several rows of Nissan huts. Each had two coke fired stoves down the middle of the room, and around twenty to thirty double bunk beds positioned around the room. While at the so called front door was a little room for a Corporal whose job it was to keep an eye on the recruits in his room. While at the other end was a door that lead to an outdoor covered walkway leading to the showers.
1960 saw the present day Drill Shed erected.
1961 and the last of the National Service recruits in 939 Squad, finish their Phase Two training at Lympstone.
Friday 12th July 1963 Lt Gen M C Cartwright-Taylor opened 'D' Block (Salerno) the first of the new four storied recruit accommodation blocks, by which time four others were also erected, and awaiting completion. 'A blot on the rural skyline' according to a report in the 'Western Morning News'.
Early 1967 the Mess-and-recreational block, including the Main Galley, Dining Halls, NAAFI and Junior NCOs Club were completed. Nearby were the NAAFI quarters and a trading centre designed to house the UIF-run amenities, Barber Shop, Pressing Shop, Laundry and Drying Room, a civilian Tailor's Shop, and the new automatic telephone exchange which came into operation during January. Also in progress were the practice rooms, stores and offices of the Plymouth Group Band, and the seventh barrack block. While sports grounds were provided in the field opposite the main gate.
Monday 24th August 1970 the camp under-went another name change to that of 'Commando Training Centre Royal Marines' (CTCRM).
Monday 28th October 1974 at 11-58am D block the last of the new four storied accommodation blocks that were started back in 1962, was finally opened. D block had the distinction of being officially opened at precisely 11-58 am on Monday 28th October 1974, exactly 310 years (to the minute) after the founding of the Corps, back in 1664.
The Junior Entries Wing (Normandy) as it was called was built to a completely different design and contained 20 barrack rooms, plus 4 'Quiet Rooms', 3 television and 2 hobbies rooms, along with Company and Troop offices.
January 1976 and the Junior Marines Block and an extension to the Officers' Mess had been completed, work progressed on the new Sergeants' Mess and sadly the last tree holding the 30 foot ropes of the Old Assault Course was felled.
Monday 3rd May 1976 a unique event occurred when the Mayor of Exeter joined the Commandant General and senior railway executives on an inaugural train service from Exeter scheduled to stop at the camp's very own station, Lympstone Commando. Not only the first new station to be built in the western region this century, but the only one in the country designed exclusively for servicemen. (


Lympstone Main Gate taken in 1963


The Main Gate taken early 2012




The original accommodation for the recruits. 1962


Authors Locker Inspection 1962


Authors Kit Inspection 1962


To Earn A Green Beret.

32 Week Basic Time Table

Week 1 Foundation
The Start, the realisation that there are two five o'clocks per day.
Joining Routine
Gym and Swimming Assessment
Kit Issue
Mathematics and English Tests
Drill and Physical Training
Location: Lympstone Commando Training Centre

Week 2 Foundation
First introduction to field conditions:
Exercise First Step (Overnight in the field)
Drill Physical Training
Personal Admin
Close Quarter Combat.
For many the realisation that the life of a Marine is predominantly spent outdoors, begins to strike home. If it's wet or snowing, this is where people may start having second thoughts - push through it.
Location: Lympstone Commando Training Centre & Woodbury Common.

Week 3 Foundation
Tactics and weapons training:
Weapon Training
Physical Training
Families Day
You've now morphed into a half-man, half ironing board mutant - but a smart one at that.
Location: Lympstone Commando Training Centre
Long Weekend Leave

Week 4 Individual Skills
More tests:
Weapon Training
Physical Training & Swim
Drill & Corps History
Exercise Early Knight (First armed field exercise at night)
Location: Lympstone Commando Training Centre

Week 5 Individual Skills
Camp and field week:
Weapon Training (including Weapon Handling Tests)
Physical Training & Runs
Map Reading
Exercise Quick Cover (3 day exercise including Basic Fieldcraft and Close Quarter Battle)
This is the first opt-out point & there will be a few quitters. Avoid the "Lemming Effect" and crack-on. Those that leave at this point can generally expect a 12-24 month wait before getting the opportunity to re-join.
Location: Lympstone Commando Training Centre & Woodbury Common.

Week 6 Individual Skills
The recruits' basic shooting skills are perfected:
First Aid
Rifle Shoot
Physical Training
Map Reading
Location: Lympstone Commando Training Centre & 40 Cdo

Week 7 Individual Skills
A week in the field introducing more basic infantry skills:
Exercise Marshall Star (3 1/2 Day Exercise) covers Basic Fieldcraft & Soldiering Skills (including Obstacle Crossing)
Close Quarter Combat
Location: Woodbury Common.

Week 8 Individual Skills
Introduction to Survival Training:
Physical Training
Map Reading
First Aid and Survival Training
Location; CTC & Stallcombe Wood

Week 9 Individual Skills
Weapons training, and an introduction to education qualifications:
Physical Training & Gym pass out.
Map reading
First Aid Exam
Light Support Weapon (LSW) Training and Shoot.
NVQ & Key Skills start
Location; CTC

Week 10 Individual Skills
Navigation and survival training:
Exercise Hunter's Moon (4 day exercise) Fieldcraft
Navigation Training,
Map Reading
Survival Exercise
Location; Dartmoor & Gileigh
Long Weekend Leave

Week 11 Advanced Skills
Recruits must pass the next two weeks to continue their training:
Live Firing: Rifle elementary application to Annual Personal Weapons Test (Combat Infantryman) (also Computer Simulations Shoots)
Location; Straight Point Range

Week 12 Advanced Skills
Shooting training is crucial if recruits are to pass on to continue their training:
Light Support Weapon Auto Shoot: LSW Annual Personal Weapons Assessment (Moving Targets/Night Sights)
Location; Straight Point Range

Week 13 Advanced Skills
Communication and CBRN training start this week:
Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Training
Comms Training Starts
Grenade throwing Helicopter & Underwater Escape Drills
Location; Woodbury Common, RNAS Yeovilton

Week 14 Advanced Skills
Time to perfect navigation and field skills ready for Exercise Baptist Run next week:
Exercise Running Man (3day exercise) mainly Navigation Training (Yomping)
Fit Lovats & Blues Uniforms
Location; CTC & Woodbury Common

Week 15 Advanced Skills
A major exercise this week tests all the core military skills required of a Royal Marine. All recruits must successfully complete this exercise to continue training:
Individual Skills Revision
Exercise Baptist Run (2day field test exercise)-to test all skills taught in phase 1- includes stalking, kit inspections, map reading, CBRN and signal tests.
First drill inspection, arms drill. passout and phase 1 pass out parade
Location; CTC & Woodbury Common
Long Weekend Leave

Week 16 Operations of War module
Training picks up intensity, with an emphasis on perfecting Infantry skills:
VHF radio procedure training
Battle physical training
51mm mortar training
Tactics package starts
Battlefield tour
Location; CTC & France

Week 17 Operations of War module
Soldiering skills and tactical training are honed and perfected:
Exercise First Base Tactical field patrols race
Observation posts and harbour drills
Location; Perridge Estate

Week 18 Operations of War module
Patrol and tactical understanding is perfected:
Exercise Second Empire section and troop level attacks
Troop fighting patrols and ambushes
Location: Woodbury Common

Week 19 Operations of War module
A combination of weapon and adventure training:
General purpose machine gun (GPMG) training
R & I/ Adventure training
Battle physical training
Location; CTC & Cornwall

Week 20 Operations of War module
The multi-terrain vehicle (the Viking) is introduced to recruits, and tactical training is completed:
Exercise Viking Warrior (Troop level patrolling exercise)
Including Viking training package
Location: Bovington Camp & training areas.

Week 21 Operations of War module
This week includes weapons training and battlefield tactics lectures:
Battle physical training
General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) training
Defence lectures and CBRN
Location; CTC

Week 22 Operations of War module
More patrolling skills are taught, as well as fighting in woods and forests (FIWAF):
Battle Physical training pass out
Operating in Built-up Areas and Close Quarter Battle Skills Including patrolling
Dig & defence
Location; Sennybridge

Week 23 Operations of War module
Operations in Built-up Areas and Close Quarter Battle Skills (OBUA AND CQB) is taught and practiced: Operations in Built-up Areas and Close Quarter Battle Skills (OBUA AND CQB) exercise
Location; Sennybridge
Long weekend Leave

Week 24 Operations of War module
More weaponry training, and an Endurance Course acquaint:
Minimi light machine gun (LGM) training,
Endurance course acquaint, Key skills period ends
Location: CTC

Week 25 Operations of War module
Amphibious training:
12 mile load carry
Amphibious training
Minimi LMG firing (AWA)
Sea safety training
Visit RM museum
Location; Poole Areas & Portsmouth

Week 26 Commando Course
Climbing and mountain skills are practiced, and the Final exercise begins:
6 Mile speed march,
Cliff assault & rope techniques,
Water obstacle crossing,
Tarzan assault course acquaint
Final Exercise starts
This is the last opt-out point after this week you'll hopefully complete RT, give 2.5 years return of service before being eligible to submit 12 months’ notice. Those not sure about their intentions ('War dodgers') leave at this point. With hindsight, having got this far, most bitterly regret leaving.
Location; CTC, Foggin Tor, SW England

Week 27 Commando Course
Final Exercise is designed to prove a high standard of professional skills and tactical understanding and recruits must successfully complete this in order to continue training:
Final Exercise ends
Specialisations brief
Location: SW England, CTC
Long Weekend Leave

Week 28 Commando Course
Training and an intensive physical workout on the Tarzan Assault Course
European computer driving licence (ECDL) computing
Tarzan Assault and Endurance course run-throughs
Location; CTC, Woodbury Common, Bicton college

Week 29 Commando Course
Live fire tactical training:
Field Firing Exercise 1 (Individual and Fire team level Live Firing)
Location; Dartmoor

Week 30 Commando Course
Field Firing Exercise 2 (Section & Troop level Field Firing)
Endurance course pass out
Location; Dartmoor, Woodbury Common, CTC

Week 31 Commando Course
This is the Commando test week where all the core criteria to becoming a Royal Marine Commando are tested:
Commando Tests (9 mile speed march, Tarzan & assault course, 30 miler, Endurance course)
ECDL Computing
Location; CTC, Woodbury Common, Dartmoor & Bicton College

Week 32 Kings Squad Pass Out Week
In this final week of training, recruits celebrate their transition to Royal Marine Commandos:
King's Squad Pass Out Parade
Leaving admin
Location; CTC. (from

The Final Test

The 30 Miler

By Glen Durrant

Nine months of rigorous training to become a Royal Marine and it all comes down to the four Commando tests: The Endurance Course, a nine-mile speed march, the Tarzan Assault Course and the 30 Miler.
A gruelling week begins with the six-mile Endurance Course and four-mile run back to the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) on the Saturday, followed by a day's rest and the nine-mile speed march on Monday, both to be completed carrying 21lbs of equipment and a 10lb rifle.
Next up on Tuesday morning is the Tarzan Assault Course - a high obstacle confidence course that must be finished in 13 minutes, also carrying 21lbs and a rifle - before the dreaded 30 Miler on day four, starting one hour before dawn at the north end of Dartmoor and culminating near Plymouth.
It's the 30 Miler that many regard as the toughest test. Thirty miles of speed marching on treacherous terrain, whatever the weather, to be completed in eight hours and while carrying 40lbs of equipment, including satellite phones, medical packs, collapsible stretchers and rifles. It's no wonder it's been described as "one of the hardest tests undertaken of any military force in the world".
Recruits are provided with all the tools they need to pass the 30 Miler, but according to former Royal Marine Mark Time, the speed march across Dartmoor is as much about being mentally prepared as being physically prepared.
"The 30 Miler is the culmination of a graduated physical training regime designed by some of the country's leading physical trainers," said Time in 2015. "With a body broken by months of unrelenting military training, these tests are passed with mental fortitude, grit and determination as much as with physical prowess."
This 'State of Mind' is ingrained in recruits by the time they tackle the 30 Miler and for Recruit Ben Davies, it was the ethos of brotherhood that enabled him to push his physical and mental capacity as he marched towards Plymouth.
Recruit Davies immediately bonded with a fellow recruit during the Royal Marines training and claims they encouraged each other - and those around them - throughout the 30 miles.
"We just kept each other going - it was nice having someone you could rely on the whole way through," he said. "He's at the same physical and mental level as me, so we started together and finished together.
"There was a couple of times where lads at the front would go to the back and help those who were lagging behind. When you spend nine months with someone, you want them to pass with you.”
But not everyone can be helped. Recruit Davies recalled the first and second checkpoints - of which there are six - as being the hardest part of the 30 Miler because of the pace they set and the boggy terrain, which was too much for one injured recruit, who had to be pulled out at the 17th mile.
"The weather was absolutely perfect. Nice and frosty in the morning and when the sun came up it was cool," he added, "but the underfoot was horrendous. The idea is to get as much time in the bag as you can at the beginning so that you can walk nearer to the end. On every downhill slope and every flat piece of ground we were running.
"But one of the lads was stopped at the 17th mile because he was injured. He couldn't keep up at the first couple of checkpoints which meant we were getting slower and didn't have as much time at the end. We came in at seven hours and 50 minutes, but it could have been seven hours and 20 minutes."p1c7rgli6s1v2h16a514bu11kvnm4h.jpg
Exhaustion sets in at the halfway stage. With 15 miles covered, reality strikes for recruits that they have to do it all over again - and it's not going to get any easier. Royal Marines Reservist Jack Ardagh, who earned his Green Beret in 2017, hit a brick wall at the third checkpoint but pushed through the pain barrier.
"At halfway I felt I'd achieved something - we've done 15 miles - but then three miles later I was exhausted," said Jack. "My brain was saying I haven't really achieved anything because I have 13 miles to go. I can't do this. I had to push myself and go into a different mode then. It's mind over body. Mind over pain."
Alongside Jack was fellow Reservist Toby Webb, who also had to dig deep as they marched past checkpoint four and descended down the moor: "The roads and the downhill running was the hardest part for me. At the end when you're really pushing to get that last bit of time in it was definitely mentally: 'Right, grit your teeth now.'"
Recruit Davies, on the other hand, said it was a case of following the instructions his Physical Training Instructor (PTI) gave to him and just focusing on reaching one checkpoint at a time.
"As long as you're eating and drinking, it's just a lot of time on your feet," he said. "When you break it down into the six sections, as long as you get to your next checkpoint and do everything you've been told, you'll be OK."
The prize of a Green Beret - not to mention the fear of failure - ultimately spurred Recruit Davies over the moor: "At the end of the 30 Miler you're getting your Green Beret and that's what all the lads have on their mind. You don't want to go through it again."
And when the finish line was in sight, Recruit Davies can remember a feeling of relief as he looked to his companion and said: "This is it. Our Green Berets are over that bridge."
Mark Time describes the Royal Marines as an "elite organisation", and for Recruit Davies, completing the 30 Miler to be given his Green Beret and then passing out earned him entry into the "best boy's club in the world".
"I feel very privileged to have accomplished something not many people have," he concluded. "I'm in the biggest and best boy's club in the world. I feel humbled and proud."(Glen Durrant)