Corporal Philip White
Philip White is from Morpeth, Northumberland.
He joined the army in 2013, joining 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, before transferring to 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in 2022.
What traits are you searching for in a recruit?
Teamwork. You definitely need to be able to work in a team in the army – otherwise, it just doesn’t work. You’re always going to be working as a team when you go on to your career. Some of the people who fail here are unable to work as a team, perhaps because they’re too selfish or too individualistic. That might stop them being good team players.
What have you learned from being an instructor?
Of all the things I’ve done in the army, I would say being at ITC has probably developed me the most. It’s definitely improved my confidence a lot. It’s also been great getting down to the nitty gritty, and just doing the basics all the time with the recruits. You teach them the tactical stuff so many times here. When you get to battalion, you don’t do it so much, so you can get that skill fade. Whereas here, you’re doing it all the time because you’re constantly teaching it, and the best way to keep up to date with something is to teach it.
Is it satisfying when you turn someone who is really not that competent to begin with into a good soldier?
Yes. You don’t really think about it while you’re training them. But once the training starts to slow down and you’re getting ready for their pass-out parade, that’s when you start to think about when they came through the door, when you first laid eyes on them. As they came through the gate, you thought, “What have we got here? How are we going to do this?” And then seeing that come out the other end, having passed every test that they needed to and going onto their careers – yes, that’s definitely satisfying.
Do you ever feel let down by the recruits?
Yes. This job can be really rewarding. But it can be quite disappointing as well if they decide they’re going to get out. You’ve got a recruit you know is going to be really good. You can see all the potential, and then they just hand in a letter to get out of the army or decide they don’t want to be there anymore. So that’s disappointing.
Were there any of those disappointments in this series?
Yes, there was a particular one that was filmed. I was in a meeting saying, “This guy is going to be the top recruit on this course.” And then he didn’t come back. He went AWOL. He didn’t come back to let us know why he’d left, but you got the impression he thought the grass was greener – which was a great shame.
Which recruits that are in the programme stood out for you?
South. He came into my section halfway through the programme. The whole time I was trying to get a bit more out of him and trying to get him to become a bit more assertive. It took a while to get it out of him, but he got much better towards the end and pulled it out of the bag.
What made you want to sign up for the army in the first place?
When I was younger, I did quite a bit of travelling. I lived in France and Australia. But I needed a bit of stability and a bit of structure in my life. I just wanted to get out there and do something. That was ten years ago. Obviously, there was quite a lot of conflict going on at the time, and there were videos online and it was all over the news. It was exciting, and I wanted to be part of it.
Where have you been since you joined the Army?
I’ve spent a lot of time in Canada. I’ve been there about seven times. I spent a year there doing training. I’ve also been to the Falklands, Estonia, France, Crete. Quite a lot of places. It definitely helps broaden your mind generally just seeing different cultures and working with other nations.
What do you hope audiences will take away from watching Soldier?
I would like people to realise the hard work that goes into training recruits. Hopefully, the programme will also stamp out any myths about ITC. It will let the public see the hard work and the effort that goes into training them because it’s a long six months and every day is a long day. You can be in from half five in the morning, sometimes till nine or ten o’clock at night.
What are the key qualities an instructor requires?
To bring the best out of a recruit, I think you definitely need to have patience, which sometimes I lack! You also have to remain professional and make sure you don’t overstep the mark. You also need leadership and the understanding that some recruits might take longer than others to learn things. Some of them haven’t learned things to the same standards other people have in their lives before they get here. On any given day day, you might have to teach someone how to tie a shoelace, and the next, you might be teaching someone how to shave!