There was an air of anticipation as the first years gathered in the drill hall on Friday night with new uniforms in hand, ready for the first evening of our induction weekend. After a few talks on topics like diversity and inclusion, we set to work learning how to iron our shirts, bull our shoes and shape our berets. We arrived at the unit early the following morning ready for our first inspection in the Royal Navy’s new PCS uniform before heading out to Faslane for a swim test. Everyone had been training in the weeks beforehand and it was great that the hard work paid off! We were all excited for our first trip out to a naval base and we even caught a glimpse of a submarine. We headed back to the unit for a tasty lunch prepared by the senior students and then found time in our busy schedule to practice marching for the upcoming remembrance parade. After being divided into groups, we completed various Personal Leadership Tasks or ‘PLT’s’. The first involved using PPE to get the whole team across a ‘river’ using just a tyre and rope. The second was a more artistic challenge in which we had to build a tall, aesthetically pleasing structure with moving parts. As leader for this task, I learned the importance of delegation and using the strengths of each member of my team. The feedback from the tasks was invaluable and really helped us to improve our leadership skills. Ending the day with a Chinese takeaway and a karaoke social was a great way to relax and have fun. We mustered early on Sunday for another inspection before getting changed into sports rig. The first years gave the seniors a run for their money in a few games of the URNU’s specialty sport, ‘Bucketball’, followed by a jog around the park to finish off. After a few final formalities, we ended the weekend feeling exhausted, exhilarated and ready to join the URNU.
The year, Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities Royal Navy Unit again had the honour to participate in the University of Glasgow Service of Remembrance. This was the first ceremonial event for the new first years who performed well and had mastered foot drill in the weeks prior. The unit had a very good turnout, very smart and their foot drill was praised by some of the other university units and as the No. 1 Guard, lead from the front. A reading was also performed in the University chapel by OC Harries The tri-service wreath was presented by MID Barclay and SMID Cornforth led the parade of University Units behind the skilled OTC Pipes and Drums Corps. The units then had a social afterwards with the other University Units in the OTC building. In all, it was certainly a humbling experience of remembering those who died defending our freedom, especially on the centenary of The Great War.
Phase 4 2018 Started off to a rocky start with flight delays preventing most of the students from joining the ship on time so the ship accompanied by two students sailed to meet them in Great Yarmouth. Before heading north to the 2018 Tall Ships Race in company with HMS Trumpeter, it was a rough trip up the East coast but we made it to Sunderland eventually. The P2’s looked quite out of place compared to the huge masted sailing vessels but we had just as much interest for tours on board, with one cheeky guest ‘accidentally’ turning on the horn whilst posing for a picture at the helm. We were lucky enough to be invited on board another military vessel in the harbour, the Indian sailing ship the INS Tarangini, a massive three masted ship crewed by 50 with a total of 20 sails, made me grateful for the minimal rope work we do on Pursuer. Our main role in for the race was to act as the start line for the ships as they started the journey to Denmark, it felt very Pirates of the Caribbean to watch the huge billowing sails travel past us. We left Sunderland that evening and travelled back down South overnight with an eventful wake up call as one of the engines decided to stop working around 6am. We made it into port and relaxed for the rest of the day before heading to Portsmouth, our last stop with HMS Trumpeter, so to say goodbye they showed us around some of the highlights of Portsmouth at night. Feeling extremely thankful the sea was calm the next day we continued our journey round to the west, joined by a Sub LT who was looking for some sea time and very keen to help us with training, especially fishing vessel identification. On our final night in Holyhead we had our end of phase meal, a slightly less glamorous affair than usual because we just ordered Chinese but just as tasty, all in all a great phase to be on and I can’t wait for the next one!
As usual, the GSURNU Trafalgar Night dinner was a riot, albeit one that came with its challenges. Not only had the first years not been issued their Destroyer Rig, but we also had the added pressure of impressing not only our usual guests, but also Lt Collins' friends and colleagues from the submarine service (who were all very friendly and not as scary as we had initially expected).
This year, the Unit had the special privilege of being catered for by actual RN chefs, they prepared a lovely dinner, despite the cook-oven relationship seeming... terse and best, and while the guest of honour's Immortal Memory ruffled a few feathers, the skit brought its usual brand of tongue in cheek humour, lead by our illustrious bar manager as Nelson.
All-in-all, Traf was a splendid night and (we hope) it provided a thorough baptism of fire for the first years. Special thanks to Kirsty Kay and everyone involved for working so hard to make it a success!