For more than a quarter of a century, the very best of Britain’s frontline combat soldiers have all called this corner of North Yorkshire home when undergoing the first stages of their training.
Catterick’s Infantry Training Centre (ITC) is now almost unrecognisable compared to the day of its inception in 1995, but the principles of what it takes to be among such fighting men and women remain the same.
The establishment marked its 25th anniversary, albeit delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a special day and a royal visit to Helles Barracks.
This is probably the best infantry training in the world Rifleman Askew
The Duke of Gloucester was on hand to witness a variety of activities, including a Gurkha taekwondo demonstration and a jump from the Red Devils parachute display team, and took the time to praise the facility’s staff.
Taking pride of place among proceedings, however, were the 130 recruits of A Company who marched off the parade square, in front of family and friends, to begin their careers as trained infantry soldiers.
Newly-trained Rifleman Askew, 21, said: “It makes you more mature. The situations that they put you through in training feel so real, this is probably the best infantry training in the world. I don’t think you’ll get anything better anywhere else.”
Such is the nature of the Army, these young men and women may one day find themselves back in Catterick, training the next generation and helping them to fulfil their potential.
The skills the soldiers are taught during their time at ITC will set them up for careers in their various infantry units across the world.
It is so rewarding seeing the recruits developing Corporal Crawford
Sergeant Gray, of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), said: “When they first arrive, the Army environment is brand new to them. Some guys will even ask how to get in a sleeping bag! But now [at the end of training], the difference is quite staggering.
“They are nervous when they first turn up. But they achieve a lot at ITC, more than they thought they could. They get more confident in what they are doing.”
Some of the permanent staff spoke of their pride in seeing what their protégés had achieved and were reminded of their own time under the tutelage of the ITC.
Corporal Crawford, of the 4th Battalion (The Highlanders), The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “It gave me more responsibility. It is so rewarding seeing the recruits developing. I passed out of ITC in 2011; it’s a family tradition to join the Army and I had wanted to from a young age.”
The young troops, cheered on by their loved ones, will now go on to join their units based across the country.
Lieutenant Colonel Brookfield, Commanding Officer (CO) of the 1st Infantry Training Battalion, said: “We require people to be capable of delivering on behalf of the country in the most arduous of terrains around the world. But we train them to get there. We have individuals here that have come in with all sorts of experiences.
“We prepare our people from a mental perspective right from the very start here. We help them develop as a team and we have fantastic support in place through welfare, Padres, and infantry instructors.”