Comando: On The Front Line

This ground-breaking new series provides a compelling insight into the making of a Royal Marine Commando through the gruelling training and – for the first time – onto the front line in Afghanistan.

This week in Commando: On The Front Line, 924 Troop go to Normandy to visit the D Day beaches. There they visit the British graveyard and see countless graves of young men as young as they are – or younger. It is a sobering moment for all of them. They lay a wreath and pay their respects to the fallen Commandos of the Second World War.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, Second Lieutenant Bertie Kerr, having arrived in Kijaki, prepares to lead a patrol into Taliban territory. Kijaki is the location of a massive dam and the largest reservoir in Afghanistan. The dam is of major strategic importance and the Taliban have been trying to capture it and destroy it for months.

First Bertie has a meeting with his new boss – the uncompromising Major Marty Collins. Collins is planning a Christmas offensive against the Taliban forces hiding in the mountains nearby. He has sent for reinforcements from Fort Bastion and as soon as they arrive he intends to put his ambitious and dangerous plan into operation – it is called Operation Sparrowhawk. Everyone is committed to absolute secrecy.

This ground-breaking new series provides a compelling insight into the making of a Royal Marine Commando through the gruelling training and – for the first time – onto the front line in Afghanistan.

924 Troop are half way through their gruelling 32 week Royal Marine Commando training and already 29 out of the 50 recruits have fallen. Against all the odds, and despite wanting to leave after the first day, Terry John from the Caribbean island of St Vincent is going from strength to strength and seems invincible.

From the Officer’s Training course at Lympstone Royal Marine Commando training centre we meet Second Lieutenant Bertie Kerr for the first time. Bertie, aged just 22, has just learnt that he is to be deployed to Afghanistan three days after he passes out from training.

For Bertie, becoming a Troop Commander on the front line after 15 months of special officer training is the realisation of a childhood dream. His parents Lou and Mark describe how their son’s destiny was set at an early age through a letter he wrote about his future: ‘When I grow up I want to be a Royal Marine like my father.’

During the last 15 months Bertie has become fully prepared for modern warfare. He’s been at the sharp end of riot control training and has become an expert in jungle survival. He’s learnt about warfare in extreme conditions, both hot and cold, and of course has become an expert in amphibious assault, infiltration and sabotage.

We catch up with Bertie and his fellow officers as he undergoes special operational training to prepare him for specific dangers he’s likely to face: how to deal with mines, ambush, capture and suicide bombers.

Ultimately, we see his departure to Afghanistan at Brize Norton RAF base, with Bertie confiding that he’s very nervous: not because of the bombs and bullets but because he does not want to let his men down. He’s going to become the new Troop Commander of 11 Troop – already battle worn after two months on the front line.

The bonds between the remaining members of 924 Troop have become stronger as their numbers dwindled, which is why completing the next big test to stay in the troop has become of such importance.

924 must complete a four mile speed march in 40 minutes with full kit and equipment weighing 21lbs. To fail the test would mean leaving friends behind by being backtrooped. For Terry John, who’s already lost his old schoolfriend Theo Browne from the troop, to be backtrooped is just unthinkable. But half-way through the march, he begins to struggle. Can Terry dig deep to remain with 924?

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1