Royal Marine Reservists complete long road to the green beret

A week of grueling physical challenges ended in triumph for a group of reservists who completed their training to become fully-fledged Royal Marine Commandos.

Successful trainees who finished the 30-mile slog around Dartmoor swapped their woollen ‘cap comforters’ for the coveted green beret.

As well as the commando’s legendary headwear, the reservists were also congratulated by the Commodore-in-Chief Maritime Reserves, Prince Michael of Kent.

In a message read out to them at the end of their final Commando test by Commodore Mel Robinson – Commander of the Maritime Reserve – Prince Michael said: “I write to congratulate the Class of 2020, as you close in on your final target and demonstrate that you are ready to wear the coveted Green Beret, a worthy symbol of a Royal Marines Commando. You should be incredibly proud.”

The reservists from across the UK joined full-time Royal Marine recruits from 297 Troop plus Army reservists from 131 Squadron Royal Engineers on the final commando test, made even tougher by the harsh Dartmoor weather and flooded conditions.

It’s been two years of hard physical training for me, it’s one of the hardest, if not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Marine Dan Budge

Full-time Royal Marines undergo 32 weeks of training to become commandos. Their reservist comrades must complete the same challenges – but juggling their commitment to the Corps with day jobs, meaning the road to a green beret can take a couple of years.

The 30-miler is the culmination of a week-long set of challenges: a six-mile endurance course across Woodbury Common, a timed nine-mile speed march and the infamous ‘Tarzan’ course, wearing full fighting order and carrying rifles, around the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, near Exeter.

“It’s been two years of hard physical training for me, it’s one of the hardest, if not the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Marine Dan Budge, from Bournemouth, one of the newly-qualified commandos.

It was definitely a moral boosting moment today when the rain stopped, and now with a green beret on my head I couldn’t be more proud.”

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Scanlon, Commanding Officer of Commando Training Wing, welcomed all the successful recruits to “a very special club”.

He continued: “The only entry point to that club is completing the 30-miler. The performance you have delivered will define your lives from now on. There is no other way to get the green beret and the commando flashes. Well done.”