24 Feb Henry Cavill Starts SBS Training at Royal Marines Camp in Devon

Category: Henry Cavill News Discussion:

On the threshold of filming the new movie, Stratton: First Into Action, which tells the story of SBS operator John Stratton, Henry Cavill has recently started his training on the SBS program at the Royal Marines training camp on Dartmoor in Devon.

What exactly does Henry's SBS training include and just how exhausting it will be? Let's look together.


Henry Cavill once said, his older brothers, who served in the Army, mock him for his choice of acting, “saying that I’m a soft actor who’s never worked a day in his life. That kind of thing. Then they come to the set and see the kind of work I do and change their mind...” At that time it was about his work on Immortals and Man Of Steel, when Henry had to gain the proper physical shape, as well as train in fencing, fighting, scuba diving and wire works.

Later, preparing for the car expedition by the hottest road in the world in the documentary Driven To Extremes, Henry studied survival skills.

This is a good supply of skills for the actor, who plays a superhero.

Superman Henry Cavill is getting in the shape for Superman

But you may have noted, Henry is among those who dives headlong into the job. He always is very keen to look the part inside and out. Being in Superman shape is not enought for Henry to play the modern days hero, an SBS operator John Stratton in his new move, Stratton: First Into Action. He will train and train and train until he will literally become that sort of bloke you would consider following into a battle.

We have long followed Henry's work and learned him well enough not to be surprised that for the role of SBS operator, he's going to undergo an SBS training program.

Duncan Falconer, the author of Stratton book series, who just met Henry a week ago and had a beer with him, said after their meeting, "Next stage is to get him in the field, get him wet, cold, tired, put a gun in his hands, and take it from there." And it looks like Henry is taking the next step and immersing himself in training.

Let's have a look on the usual training program for the Royal Marines, which the SBS are part of.


Royal Marines recruit training is the longest basic modern infantry training programme of any NATO combat troops. The Royal Marines are the only part of the British Armed Forces where officers and other ranks are trained at the same location, the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone, Devon. Much of the basic training is carried out on the rugged terrain of Dartmoor and Woodbury Common with a significant proportion taking place at night.


Basic training

Royal Marines 30 mile speed march Royal Marines are doing 30 mile speed march (Photo by Matt Austin)

The first weeks of training are spent learning basic skills that will be used later. This includes much time spent on the parade ground and on the rifle ranges. Physical training at this stage emphasizes all-round physical strength, endurance and flexibility in order to develop the muscles necessary to carry the heavy equipment a marine will use in an operational unit. Key milestones include a gym passout at week 9 (not carried out with fighting order), a battle swimming test, and learning to do a "regain" (i.e. climb back onto a rope suspended over a water tank). Most of these tests are completed wearing fighting order of 32 lb (14.5 kg) of Personal Load Carrying Equipment. Individual fieldcraft skills are also taught at this basic stage.


The Commando course

The culmination of training is the Commando course. Key aspects of the course include climbing and ropework techniques, patrolling, and amphibious warfare operations.

Royal Marines Tarzan assault course Tarzan assault course (Photo by Matt Austin)

The Commando Tests include:

  • A nine mile (14.5 km) speed march, carrying full fighting order, to be completed in 90 minutes; the pace is thus 10 minutes per mile (6 min/km or 6 mph).
  • The Endurance course is a six mile (9.65 km) course across rough moorland and woodland terrain at Woodbury Common near Lympstone, which includes tunnels, pipes, wading pools, and an underwater culvert. The course ends with a four mile (6 km) run back to CTCRM. Followed by a marksmanship test, where the recruit must hit 6 out of 10 shots at a 25m target simulating 200 m. To be completed in 73 minutes.
  • The Tarzan Assault Course. This is an assault course combined with an aerial confidence test. It starts with a death slide (now known as The Commando Slide) and ends with a rope climb up a thirty foot near-vertical wall. It must be completed with full fighting order in 13 minutes.
  • The 30 miler. This is a 30 mile (48 km) march across upland Dartmoor, wearing full fighting order, and additional safety equipment carried by the recruit in a daysack. It must be completed in eight hours for recruits and seven hours for Royal Marine officers, who must also navigate the route themselves, rather than following a DS (a trained Royal Marine) with the rest of a syndicate and carry their own equipment.

Completing the Commando course successfully entitles the recruit or officer to wear the coveted green beret.

Training to be a Royal Marine takes 32 weeks. The last week is spent mainly on administration and preparing for the pass out parade.


Special Boat Service SBS SBS training

In order to qualify as an SBS Swimmer Canoeist, candidates are put through an extensive training course. The training includes:

  • Extensive diving technique
  • Parachuting practice
  • Demolition methods
  • Infiltration of ships and oil platforms
  • Canoeing skills
  • Survival training in the wilds of Scotland
  • Beach reconnaissance, including photography
  • Maritime Counter-Terrorism activities


Impressive, isn't it?

Henry once said that he had never jumped with a parachute and wants to do it. Well, it seems, his dream is on the verge of implementation.

Although, for Henry, certainly, it will be an abridged version of the training course, his older brothers might fear that in the end that "soft actor" will become the hardest and most trained soldier in their family.


The filming of Stratton: First Into Action is slated for the second quarter of this year. The movie is based on the novels of Duncan Falconer, who is the former SBS commando himself, and tells a story of SBS operator John Stratton. Stratton, First Into Action is also notable for being the first production work for Henry Cavill and his younger brother Charlie Cavill. They both were recently spotted in Widecombe in Devon, where a substantial army training camp on Dartmoor, commonly referred to as "Okehampton Camp" is located.

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