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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 07:00 GMT
Female assault on commando course
Surgeon Lieutenant Katy Bray
Surgeon Lieutenant Katy Bray is a running champion
A Royal Navy doctor from Cornwall is attempting to become the first woman to win a coveted commando green beret.

Surgeon Lieutenant Katy Bray, 26, from Truro, is the only female among 50 personnel attempting eight weeks of gruelling tests in Devon.

If she makes it to week five, she is likely to be joined by Captain Pip Tattersall, who has already survived six weeks of tests at a previous attempt.

The Royal Marines All Arms Commando Course is considered to be the toughest military challenge in the world, with a 55% drop-out rate.

The lads will be experiencing exactly the same pain and emotions

Surgeon Lieutenant Katy Bray

Lieutenant Bray was a keen member of a gig-rowing team in Cornwall and became a rugby player at university in London.

At Britannia Royal Naval College she set a new cross-country running record.

She has spent seven weeks with fellow naval doctors at Lympstone Commando Training Centre, near Exmouth, doing basic military training.

Tough focus

Lieutenant Bray said: "I know that aspects of the course will be mentally and physically exhausting.

"But I also know that the lads will be experiencing exactly the same pain and emotions.

Assault course
More than half drop out of the course
"I'm just going to focus on each of the challenges in turn."

Tests on the commando course include completing a nine-mile speed march, scaling a 30-feet wall, and sprinting 217 yards while carrying another trainee in a fireman's lift.

There is also a 30-mile march with a full pack across Dartmoor, which must be completed in eight hours.

Would-be commandos will also be tested on commando battle skills - the test that Captain Tattersall failed, close to achieving her goal.


She is now on standby to make her final attempt on the final section of the course.

But Captain Tattersall, from Tarland in Aberdeenshire, will only get a place on the course if enough of the other candidates drop out in the first four weeks.

Captain Pip Tattersall
Captain Tattersall came close to success
Further physical challenges will lie ahead, according to a Ministry of Defence spokesman.

"After that, they have the endurance course and other commando tests, including the Tarzan assault course."

The endurance course involves a 1.5-mile run over Devon's Woodbury Common, crawling through tunnels, and then running back to the shooting range at Lympstone.

There, recruits must shoot at a target 10 times and score six hits.

Neither woman can actually become a Royal Marine commando, because only men are allowed to serve as front-line infantrymen.

If successful, they would be attached to the Royal Marines in a support role.

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