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Royal Marines legend completes his last commando challenge

19 December 2019
Most retired servicemen would have hung up their boots a long time ago and settled for an easier lifestyle. But every three weeks one former Royal Marines Colour Sergeant puts them firmly back on and ventures out onto Dartmoor, to support the 30 miler, the ultimate Commando challenge.

Peter ‘Knocker’ White, has taken part in the 30 miler Commando test for the past 40 years, since 1978 and it is estimated that he has seen over 7000 coveted Green Beret presented to Royal Marines recruits and young officers as well as All Arms Commando Courses. 

But now at the tender age of 91, he has decided to call it a day and completed his final Dartmoor Commando Yomp.  

The 30 miler is a gruelling Yomp across Dartmoor and the toughest test of every Royal Marines’ career. From Okehampton in the north to Shaugh Prior in the south, through every type of weather, as well as carrying 40 lbs of equipment and rifle and covering the distance in under eight hours for recruits and seven for young officers.

“It’s physically hard and takes guts to do it,” said Knocker. “It’s something you never forget.”

Knocker joined the Royal Marines in 1945 when he was 17, having also seen service during the Second World War with the Home Guard in his native Gloucester.

He competed his Commando training in North Wales at Towyn and went on to serve in 44, 45 and 40 Commandos in his career, seeing active service in Malaya, Korea, Palestine, Borneo and the Far East, before ending up working on Dartmoor at Merrivale Range and then in Headquarters South West Training Areas. 

 
I like seeing the standards kept up, I like seeing young Marines working hard and I like to see them all finish, so when they meet any other Royal Marines, they all know they’ve completed something together.

Peter 'Knocker' White

“I started with the 30 miler when I was working as safety advisor on South Dartmoor, after I retired,” said Knocker.

“I’d clear their routes across the moor and felt it important to see them when they were out. It’s important for me to keep on going and for the young Marines to see an older man like me, out there with them, and they can all possibly do it when they are 91. I like seeing the standards kept up, I like seeing young Marines working hard and I like to see them all finish, so when they meet any other Royal Marines, they all know they’ve completed something together.”

Commandant of the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, Colonel Simon Chapman made a special presentation to Knocker on completion of his final 30 miler. 
“He’s been coming out here almost non-stop for the past 40 years, it’s a wonderful achievement,” said Col Chapman. 

“For much of that time he was actually running with the recruits and young officers. To see someone like Knocker in the middle of nowhere, giving you encouragement, gives you such a boost. He is part of the Royal Marines’ family and true Corps legend.” 
 


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