Read Part Two HERE

We set off out of the camp gate in Brunei in three ranks at a fairly brisk pace, marching along a dusty track. It was early, so it wasn’t unbearably hot and damp yet. Still, we weren’t in the trees proper yet, and it was already humid. I could hear the waves crashing on the beach, but I couldn’t see the water yet. Suddenly without warning, the pace picked up on the march with such ferocity that, in an instant, those at the back were a huge distance from the frontrunners. Unfortunately for me, I was amongst those looking forward at the disappearing pack, now down to just the lone drill sergeant and a couple of blokes who must have been right on his shoulder.

He was quite literally running a steady pace faster than I could sprint at my fastest. From my starting position at the rear, I had no chance. I set my pace as fast as I could and just followed the footsteps in the deep sand. My calves felt like they were going to explode, each step pumping them up a little more. I was not the only one so far back; there were at least 20 of us severely behind. There were drill sergeants around us, but we didn’t get a word from them. Back in the Green Army, people would have been yelling at you to keep up. Here, no one said a word. I could see the squad forming up in the distance and slowing down a little.

I tried to increase my pace to get there. As I got there, the drill sergeants were beginning to get people lined up and ready for some exercises. Sure enough, we went straight into a session of sprints and carries, push-ups and sit-ups. The sand was sticking to my sweating body and every crack I had was filling up. My training shoes were full of sand and I could feel it through my socks and between my toes. We were formed up in three ranks again, and as before, the drill sergeant took off like a gazelle with three lions up its arse.