Raw Recruits: Squaddies at 16

Has anyone watched this series?  Surprisingly compelling documentary about young recruits doing basic training and going on into their regiments after that.

Unlike watching the Paras documentary, P Company etc (which seems designed (understandably) to take borderline psychos and make them into incredibly fit complete psychos who are ready to kill very effectively and quickly and then to beat each other to shit and laugh it off), this is a little less ambitious.

It is a company of school leavers who come from various walks of life with various backgrounds and ambitions.  They are not uniformly fit or aggressive or even impressive. We see so much about elite military wossname that one forgets how many members of our armed forces are not elite infantry superheros. Many are Christopher Biggins-esque plodder types who want to be in the Army Medical Corps or catering. Running round the parade ground without tripping over their shoelaces is a challenge.

They seem very young, and are no older than my younger child with the odd exception.   Quite a few have taken this route in preference to the alternative of fuck all.   Some feel they must succeed or they will be thrown back into "civvy street" and that's unthinkably stabby and pointless. 

It fails some but succeeds with many. I'm impressed by the management and leadership from the training staff at Harrogate.

There was a previous similar documentary and both have been fascinating.  There is one recruit who has threatened people who does seem rather fixated on the Army and killing people but at least they've been giving him professional help with his anger management issues.

I didn't see it last night so don't tell me what happened to the plonker who is well acquainted with the CO's office as I'll watch it this evening.

The sad thing is the handful of recruits who just don't seem to be able to grasp that the Army is pretty much their only opportunity.  Friend of mine was in an infantry regiment and hated having to bin the people who scraped through basic training but just couldn't get themselves together once they joined a regiment.  Some of them he'd be able to get through to and they'd turn things around but some of them just didn't seem to understand what would happen if they were kicked out.

The drug taking loser yesterday was a bit heart breaking. you can't have someone spliffed off their face waving a gun around on the battlefield, but clearly he nearly escaped his fate only to fuck it all up.

Please don't be such a patronising, pompous arse, Mutts - Christopher Biggins did 19 tours of duty and single-handedly saw off both Hitler and Sadaam Hussein.

Show a bit of respect.

Sibling of a friend is a squaddie in the paras, having joined at 18.

The kid absolutely hates it, and it sounds all round dehumanising and horrific.


Mutters I guess getting stoned and trying to shoot might have been an issue for the Americans in Vietnam but wouldn't be surprised if some of our boys in Afghanistan had tried the local herbs to try and alleviate the strange combination of stress and boredom.

Heh. I think this guy might not be a "happy calm stoned" but could deal with his frustrations in life if up to the eyeballs and with gun in hand. Enemies would be fine. It's his colleagues I'd fear for.

I haven't seen this documentary but I did see a similar one on late night TV once called STRIPES about some US recruits that tried to pass basic training and ended up getting into hot water with some MPs.

Gen. Barnicke: Where the hell have you been, soldier?

Winger: Traaaaaaaining, sir!

Soldiers: Training, sir!

Gen. Barnicke: What kind of training, son?

Winger: Aaaaaaarmy training, sir!

Soldiers: Army training, sir!


An ex-girlfriend joined the Army at 18. When I asked her why she said 'I fvcked up my A-levels'. Tough girl, she was in there for years and eventually rose to the rank of Major.

No idea where she is now, but it would be interesting to meet up.

Many, many, years ago now, my dad was commanding officer of 2 Para, and I was an army brat moving every two years from one posting to another. The memories are sketchy, but I seem to recall squaddies filling in as child minders from time to time. I think there's a big thing with any regiment about the regimental family, but it was certainly true of the Paras, and it was great way of life for a kid. Have always found it hard to think that the same guys who'd been building train sets with me during the day, were probably beating up crap hats in Aldershot that evening, but given the few black eyes that I saw, I guess that the chances are pretty high that they were. 

yeah, and bloody sunday too - but train sets, ray - you know, for kids!

She was more of a childhood friend Bam, we were born within hours of each other at the same Yorkshire hospital. We used to play touch rugby in the garden and generally run around out of control.

We lost contact because the family moved away, but we met up again at 18. She did serve in NI for a while.

During my time on the streets, came across a fair few squaddies who were in their mid-20s and were already disappointed by life - They were simply dragging from one day to the next. The only thing they felt optimistic about was holding conversations with complete strangers when they could forget their own minds. Harrowing at times to see how isolated they felt in the crowd. 

It's a tough gig... whatever the reason they ended up in the army. 

Was her name Deborah Chambo?  never suited her...