Press Centre

The Paras: Men Of War

  • Episode: 

    2 of 3

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Thu 17 Jan 2019
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 03 2019 : Sat 12 Jan - Fri 18 Jan
  • Channel: 

    ITV
The information contained herein is embargoed from all Press, online, social media, non-commercial publication or syndication - in the public domain - until Tuesday 8 January 2019.
 
The Paras: Men Of War
 
Episode 2
 
“The moment I’m given that rifle and on that plane jumping out into a war-torn country… I’m not going to be able to call my mum and ask her to give me a hug. It’s about just growing a pair and getting the job done.” - Private Jack Kojo-Braima
 
This brand-new three part landmark documentary series features unprecedented access to the elite Parachute Regiment, after its doors were opened to a UK network broadcaster’s cameras for the first time in a generation.
 
Filmed over 12 months, the series goes into all aspects of this closed world which turns raw recruits into elite soldiers trained to kill. Young men, many still in their late teenage years, are pushed to the extremes of their endurance and learn vital skills on the brutal 28-week recruitment course aiming to gain their coveted maroon beret. Only a few of those who join up make it to the end.
 
With access to the regiment for the first time since the early 1980s, The Paras: Men Of War offers a unique perspective and unflinching account of what it takes to make the grade, as well as providing an intimate insight into the characters of the young men and the officers charged with transforming them into battle ready paratroopers, who are the first in to any conflict.
 
Throughout the series they talk openly about their experiences both in training and in combat - and reflect on the challenges they face, providing a view into the mindset of the soldiers and the reality of the unique culture of the Paras. The series also follows the recruits who make it into the regiment, filming them up close and personal on their first major assignments as they prepare for new military threats.   
 
In the second programme, only 27 of the original 40 recruits - all known as ‘Joe’ to remove their civilian identities - remain as the platoon reaches a third of the way through its training course. Corporal Ollie Seal, taking them into bayonet exercises, emphasises the aggressiveness of their task. He says: “Paratroopers are designed to kill Joe, this is your job, this is what you’ve chosen to do. You wanna close in towards the enemy and bayonet ‘em in the face. He wants to kill and behead British soldiers. Are you gonna let that happen?”
 
Lieutenant Dan Lovegrove says the brutal training - on the most demanding and punishing infantry course in the world - is designed so recruits can channel and control an inner violence which they believe must exist in an individual to become a Para. He says: “If on operations we were being fired upon by the enemy... The final possible solution is to ask the para to stand up and run to try and draw out the fire of the enemy.”
 
Private Matt Latham, 17, believes he’s ready for whatever the Paras have to throw at him in training. He says: “I looked it and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s definitely for me. It’s the hardest training you can do. I want a bit of that.’”
 
But after one particularly difficult session, Matt is struggling, and it makes him consider his future in the Paras. He says: “It is quite full mentally and emotionally battering. It’s not in a way that people certainly watching this or on civvy street would think... I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just keep going.’ But it’s so much more than that, and I don’t think people realise until they come here and experience it.”
 
Corporal Jono Cantwell, dealing with Matt and another recruit, says to them: “Joe, this is where the metal meets the f***ing meat! This is the reality of our profession Both of you need f***ing need to take a hard f***ing look at yourselves. Is this the profession that you want, Joe?”
 
As the course goes on, physical training further intensifies - a stage known as ‘Beat Up’ - which is designed to prepare recruits for the hardest physical test in the Army, called P Company, that they must pass to become paratroopers. Sergeant Al Harman from P Company staff says: “There is nobody that rocks up to P Company thinking, ‘I’ve got this.’ Because it doesn’t happen. You turn up, you do the tests and the matrix will decide whether you pass or not. So yes, I remember mine, it was nails, end of chat.”
 
Among those who make it to P company is 31-year-old Private Alex Parry, one of the oldest recruits who has had to recover from a leg injury which threatened his future on the course. Other than his age, he says he has a couple of other inspirations driving him on. He says: “P Company for me, as well as it meaning the world to me for my little girl, I also look at it as a bit of a punishment for being a dick out on civvy street... I was like a f***ing hand grenade. I’ve been arrested for various things such as like criminal damage, assault… I’m just trying to right a few wrongs so that I can show people that I can do good.”
 
Private Rashid, 32, who comes from Afghanistan, explains his upbringing in a war zone inspired him to sign up. He says: “The Paratroopers that I met in Kabul, they stood out to me, that they were braver, they were like going in first for anything. And that kind of attracted me, ‘cause I wanna be part of that regiment and I wanna be part of that pride and wearing that maroon beret.”
 
But during the week-long P Company, Rashid collapses with exhaustion during the log race - in which a handful recruits have to carry a large tree trunk over a long distance - putting his chances of passing in jeopardy. He says: “This is the only dream that I have, and I’ve been waiting for this for a while and I’ll do anything to pay the price and achieve this.”
 
The most brutal test is left to the final day - a one-minute bout of amateur boxing known as milling. Major James Monk, who is in charge of the milling session, tells the recruits: “We want to see which of you has the b******s to get his head above the parapet when the rounds are coming in, yeah? Win at the firefight, that’s what we wanna see regardless of how many f***ing rounds are coming in, you are throwing more rounds at that target, okay? Controlled aggression, alright. I don’t wanna see anyone dancing around the ring like Sugar Ray Leonard.”
 
Finally, the recruits find out whether they will be given the maroon beret - or will be dismissed from the platoon. Once his troops have passed out, says Sergeant Ryan North, his duty of care doesn’t finish. He says: “I probably might not see them for years. But if one of them God forbid was to die on operations, I’d always remember him as being one of my recruits and I’d make sure I could attend the funeral and just be there, because at the end of the day I put him on that journey to become a paratrooper… He’s still part of that family and I’d still like to finish that journey with him.”