Naked, from 200 hopefuls down to 60. But they still hadn't made it. On a bitter English spring morning they stood, in a second world war hangar in Hereford. They were not given the luxury of clothing, they were of course wanting to join the finest regiment in the British Army and maybe even the world. The SAS, formed during WW2 carried out reconnaissance and sabotage missions in German occupied Africa. Ever since they have set the standard for being the best, the very best.
Most of the men standing there were from the Parachute Regiment, 65 percent of the regiment were from the paras. They see themselves as the "hard nuts" of the Army. There were however a large number of lads from regular infantry regiments along with a hand full of Royal Engineers and even a chef. No matter what cap badge they wore, all were equal at this point. They had one more task ahead of them and they all knew it would be hell, not much has changed concerning selection in the Regiment since it's formation. Most of the soldiers who want to be a part of the SAS focus on being the strongest around, these soldiers are mostly para's and are quickly shown that resembling 'the hulk' is not always what the Regiment is looking for. More mental strength is required than physical strength. This was clear looking at the line-up of soldiers in the hangar. They had survived the physical tests, mostly TABs across the Devonshire countryside, however now they faced their biggest test. It won't test their upper body strength or their ability to TAB for 12 solid hours, instead it would test their 'state of mind'. A phrase most commonly associated with Royal Marines.
The man who would be in control of this test was Captain Harris, the sight of him would make any tough squaddy shit his pants. There were many people like him in the British Army. Fearless, disciplined, experienced and empty. Empty he was because he had no care for these men, he only wanted the best. The Captain himself was an ex Para, he left school when he was 15 and joined the Parachute Regiment at 17. Although he is only in his late 40's, his scars and tired, overworked expression make him look at least 55. He is a perfect example of the effects of war on a human being. As the youngest ever soldier in the regiment, he was the first British soldier although unofficially to set foot in the Falklands. He carried out countless missions in the middle-east and Asia, he was even meant to be a part of the famous Bravo Two Zero mission, however a certain Sergeant named McNab was given the position instead.
With no emotion he briefed the men, most of them were probably not listening. Most thinking about a warm bed or dry clothes. Captain Harris with his monotone voice barked out the instructions whilst pacing up and down and inbetween the ranks. All of the men, despite the blisters, bruises and cuts stood to attention with their backs straight and their heads and eyes forward. The task that they faced would be carried out over seven days, each man would be equipped with some 1950's style green overalls and horrible army issue boots with string for laces. This was to make them as uncomfortable as possible and to see how they handled the inevitable pain they would face, already battered and knackered from the previous weeks. In addition to their basic inventory of clothing they would be given a hand drawn silk map and a compass. These items were necessary as their task would not be to complete an attack on an imaginary enemy or even to follow a PTI across a mountain. Their task would simply be to survive. This however would not be as easy as it seems, they would be tracked by a hunter force equipped with night vision, land rovers and dogs. This excersize was common practice for this hunter troop. They were from Pathfinder Platoon, trained soldiers in tracking and intelligence gathering who often worked along side the SAS. Recruits often didn't last for more than a few days, but it wasn't over after you got caught...
The morning came, the men's legs wobbling with both fear and excitement. The Captain sat in his Jeep with a few of his Sergeants, he was completely different to his own soldiers. The freezing hopefuls would occasionally look into the Jeep to see the already battle hardened members of D Squadron laughing and having a smoke, the Captain stuck to his cigars as smoke filled the Jeep. Those amongst the recruits that smoked hadn't done so for weeks, what they would've given to climb into that Jeep and pinch a cigarette off of one of the Sergeants, but that was never going to happen. As the recruits were loaded off of their damp, metallic trucks a squad of soldiers ran past, it was clear that they were SAS with all of their own PT or physical training gear. As they ran past the recruits one of them gave a shout, making at least half of the lads jump out of their skin. "Good luck wankers" he said, as the other members of the squad laughed confidently. They had earned that right, once soldiers made it into the SAS the whole disciplined, old-fashioned ways of the Army disappeared. Soldiers often wore their own kit around Credenhill without any questions from their superiors. If a regular infantryman were to wear a non regulation t-shirt, they would get completely beasted for it. In the regiment however, soldiers had a lot more freedom.
The recruits began muttering amongst themselves, some sat on the floor in a hope that it would save energy. They weren't wrong. One man ran to the edge of the woods nearby and curled over to throw up, in a military establishment or workplace illness spreads fast so this man was quickly removed, he would have his time later on. As the recruits were talking they heard four slams, the SAS soldiers who would be assessing them were out of the maroon coloured Jeep. All of them were wearing the coveted khaki beret, three of them sported a large amount of facial hair. Soldiers in the regiment were encouraged to grow facial hair in order to conceal their identities, something that these young men would have to get used to.