The following and subsequent series of articles reflect my best attempts at recollection of what the regiment experience was like. It relies on my memories and the notes I was able to take in the extremely limited amount of free time I had. These statements are of course of my own opinion and volition. I share them as a means to provide insight into the experience for future generations who are subjected to similar and they do not in any way reflect the opinions of The Regiment, it’s officers or members.
8am, Sunday Jan 7th, marked the beginning of this years recruit camp with the opening of the front gates of Warwick Camp, the home of the Bermuda Regiment. Of those who had been milling about outside the gates, most were dressed as required in the military camouflage fatigues we had been issued. We stood there relishing in the moment that many had come to dread. The start of camp and our 3 year and 2 month involuntary commitment.
Once inside, we were aligned along the south edge of the camp’s central square and stood opposite to ranks of other soldiers who had taken their place prior to our arrival. As we stood in wait, our bags on our shoulders or down at our feet, names were called out as Regimental Officers identified each recruit and matched him with others. Those whose names had been called where then marched off under the custody of those whom we quickly realized would be our immediate superiors for the next 15 days. As we waited, we watched as those recruits unfortunate enough to arrive late were hurried up the right side of the square, prodded to run with all their baggage by soldiers with an RP emblem emblazoned on their shoulders.
Our first order of the day was to become acquainted with our barracks, which would serve as home for the duration of our stay. Walking down rows of bunks where sheets and blankets had been folded and placed at the edge of each bed, we each glanced at the name tags hanging at the front of each bunk. Keeping an eye out for one’s own name, we each quickly found our own and noted that we would soon be known only by our last name, rank and serial number, in traditional military fashion.
With little more time to get acquainted with our new abode then to stop and check over the equipment we’d been assigned, we were quickly ushered to the next phase of our first day which involved a very brief tour of camp grounds including explanations of where we could go along with were we could not. Unsurprisingly, those places we could not go vastly outnumbered those that we could as it was explained that we were going to require escorts to go most anywhere. Many of us quickly realized that we would have little freedom of choice on where we could go and when as we remained within the gates of Warwick camp.
The morning continued with a quick jog outside the front gates of camp, down and across south shore road and down a path where we came upon a familiar, yet oddly foreign sight. Laid out in front of us was the familiar scenery of south shore Warwick, overlooking the beaches. What differed from the traditional was that the landscape was checkered with area marking tape, targets akin to what you’d seen on firing ranges in the movies and, off in the distance, an array of cinder block walls, sandbags, plastic barrels and other odd structures. Of particular interest was a table set up only a couple meters in front of us where an assortment of weapons had been laid out on display. Other recruits who had already arrived were busy taking a seat on the grass in a sectioned off area and we were motioned to join them.
The demonstration began as every recruit had found a spot on the ground. We were instructed to take out the earplugs we had been given and place them in our ears, after which the instructor began speaking via loudspeaker. He motioned towards the table as he welcomed us to the pyrotechnics demonstration and explained that, laid out in front of us, was a selection of the weapons currently held by the Regiment. As he went over each item, an assistant held up the example for everyone to see and other demonstrators took over the weapon and gave demonstrations of them being fired on the south shore firing range.
Among the selection there were various types of signal flares, grenades, rifles and guns. We were taken through the selection of firearms beginning with the Ruger Rifle. The Ruger was described to be the primary firearm in use by the Bermuda Regiment and would be the firearm each of us would be assigned during our time in camp. It was suggested that the Ruger had been in use since the early 80s and that this would be the Ruger’s last year, as next year would mark the introduction of a new rifle and the retirement of the aging Rugers. The Ruger was shown to still be effective despite it’s age as a demonstrator took aim and fired off a few shots at targets in the distance.
Next up was the SLR, described as a past favorite of the British Army followed by the more modern SA80 British Rifle and subsequently, a General Purpose Machine Gun or GPMG. The ever popular Hollywood favorite UZI was demonstrated next along with the Remington shot gun. Each of these shorter range weapons were fired at closer targets, showcasing their ability to inflict considerable damage convincing most that you’d never want to find yourself at the other end of the barrel. A 9mm Baretta and a Smith and Weston Pistol were showcased as part of the Regiment’s handgun assortment. Their quick shots fired at various targets showcasing that among other things, riot shields are no match for handguns. Finally, a Federal Riot Gun was demonstrated. The FRG was explained to be the weapon used by the Regiment in riot training and live scenarios. Capable of delivering light 1.5 grain and heavy 25 grain rubber rounds which could, it was described as a last resort method of attaining crowd control is a riot situation.
Following the demonstration of the effectiveness of each of these weapons, some proving their lethality by laying a heavy beating on some of the targets, we were instructed to rise and were led our way back to camp.
Next up? Lunch.