Infantry Recruits Praised As They Pass Out Behind Closed Doors

The British Army’s newest infantry personnel have been praised for their application during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the first soldiers to complete basic training at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick since lockdown have been praised for their attitude.

The coronavirus crisis impacted much of the recruits' training, with lessons being taught virtually and fitness levels being monitored through mobile phone apps while the centre was closed.

Due to the pandemic, family and friends of the 130 soldiers were unable to attend the traditional passing out parade at nearby Wathgill Camp, which is being used by the centre to better cope with social distancing measures.

The recruits decided to ditch their parade uniform for their combats, with Fijian soldiers singing a special musical tribute. 

New recruit Fusilier George Bowyer told Forces News he "can't wait" for the next step of his Army career.

Private Mitchell Luxford said: "I had the self-belief I could do the course and now I am at the end of it, it's helped me with myself, knowing that I can believe in what I can do and what I can achieve as a person." 

The training centre was closed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Parts of the course were changed as a result and it was extended by an extra eight weeks.

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Parsons, Commanding Officer, 1st Infantry Training Battalion, said it has been an "unconventional course" for the recruits.

"Instead of doing the normal 26-week course, their course has been lengthened, and shortened, and changed, because of COVID-19," he said.

"So they’ve done really well to get through it and pass off today."

The awards were pointed out rather than handed out during the passing out ceremony.

As part of coronavirus measures, the entire cohort of recruits formed a bubble after returning to the centre and were unable to go home at weekends.

Lieutenant James Southeard, Platoon Commander, Infantry Training Centre, said: "The thing that’s impressed me most is the way the lads have reacted to it.

"They’ve had, where they would usually have had time with their families, having that stabilising influence of getting home, seeing mates all that sort of thing, they’ve just had each other to look out for each other in camp on weekends.

"I think it’s incredible to see that they’ve kept their heads up despite all of it."

The awards had to be pointed out to the winning recruits rather than being handed over during the ceremony because of COVID-19. 

While the post-parade meal was a modest barbeque under a gazeebo.

The recruits will now head to their respective regiments.