It is rare enough to pass the gruelling 30-mile speed march which Royal Marine recruits attempt at the end of their training, but it is even rarer to pass it with your dad on the speed march as well.
And it’s unheard of for the father to be the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines at Lympstone, Devon.
However, that is what happened when Recruit Connor Gilby, of 153 Recruit Troop completed the last of the four Commando tests which Royal Marines have to pass during training. As he got to the end of the speed march Connor had the reassuring presence of his father alongside Warrant Officer Phil Gilby, 42.
To cap it all, after the speed march, Connor was presented with his coveted and hard earned Green Beret by his dad in front of guest of honour Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General James F Amos. General Amos was visiting with the Commandant General Royal Marines Major General Davis. General Amos is one of the highest ranking officers in the US military and is on the US Joints Chiefs of Staff. The USMC is bigger than the British Army, Royal Navy and RAF combined.
The Royal Marines 30-mile speed march is one of the hardest physical tests undertaken by any military force in the world. It involves running and marching 30 miles across the remote wilderness of Dartmoor carrying 32 lbs of equipment and has to be passed in eight hours!
Phil said: “As a Regimental Sergeant Major of Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, he’s made me proud but as a dad he’s made me even prouder.”
Connor, who is one of only 13 original recruits out of 60 who started with 153 Troop, said: “I’ve always wanted to be in the military and wanted to be in the Royal Marines since I was 12.”
He added: “The Commandant Marine Corps said to me that passing the 30-miler was an amazing achievement and that I should wear my Green Beret and Commando flashes with pride. There has been a bit of banter with the lads in my troop that my dad is the RSM but I’ve not had any favouritism and I wouldn’t have wanted that.”
The other three Commando tests include a 9-mile speed march which must be passed in 90 minutes. The Tarzan Assault course which involves recruits doing a death slide and swinging through the trees and must be done in 13 minutes. Also the recruits must pass the notorious Endurance Course which includes a series of tunnels and then a run back to the training centre to complete a shooting test.
Asked if he had a tear in his eye when he presented the Green Beret to his son WO1 Gilby joked: “Well it started to get a bit smokey out there.”