My feed

to access all these features

If you have a family member in the Royal Navy, RAF or army, find support from other Mumsnetters here.

Forces sweethearts

New to army life.

42 replies

makapaka · 25/10/2007 18:18

My husband is just about to join the army and I was wondering if anyone could tell me what life as an army family is really like. Any tips would be great.

OP posts:
GreatBigHairyMonsterlapin · 25/10/2007 22:10

Hi there! I can't exactly, because my DH is Navy, but I didn't want you to go unanswered! Hopefully one of the Army ladies is around... BitTiredNow is an army wife, have a look for her

How old is your DH? and how long have you been, married, do you have children etc

jcscot · 26/10/2007 09:18

I can give you what little advice I can (my experience may differ from yours).

Firstly - you will be separated during his basic training. The Army won't house you until he's officially passed out. So, be prepared to be on your own for the first wee while. I can't remember how long basic lasts for soldiers - six months or so? - but for officers, it's a year. During that time, they only get a certain amount of leave. However, because of the changes in the demographics of those joining the army, the DS will be symapthetic to genuine family crises if you are unlucky enough to find yourself in one.

Once your husband has joined his regiment/corps, you will be allocated a quarter and, from then on, life will settle down to normal. To be honest, Army life isn't that different from civvie life - except when they're away on ops. There is a support network there for you, so use it. Most bases have coffee mornings/meet & greets where you'll get to know your neighbours and there's the social life of the junior ranks club/seniors' mess/officers' mess. Of course, should you wish to keep yourself to yourself, you can.

I've been an Army wife for eight years now and I was with my husband for three years prior to that while he went through his last year at Uni and then Sandhurst.

If you have any specific or further questions I'm happy to answer them as far as I am able.

Good luck and don't worry!

makapaka · 26/10/2007 21:24

Thanks for answering. Dont worry Hairy Monster no harm in being a bit nosy. My DH is 27 so quite old really to be going to Sandhurst. We have been married 4 years and have 1 DD who is nearly 2. Glad to hear that all is not doom and gloom.

OP posts:
tori32 · 26/10/2007 21:45

Hi makapaka! welcome to the mob! I am ex RAF and am now an Army wife. It depends alot on what regiment your DH is joining. You will definately be separated through most if not all of basic training, but once he gets his first posting you will be located in a quarter (army house) where ever that is. Again it depends on the regiment as to how much he goes away. Usually tours are between 4-6mths in another country.

Usually there are welfare people on hand and toddler groups/ creche and pre-schools on camp. You will probably be allocated a two bed house unless there are none available.

I take it he is joining as an officer if he is going to Sandhurst. So I can't tell you much from that angle as we are non-commissioned ranks, but houses are usually a better standard.

tori32 · 26/10/2007 21:47

Forgot to ask what trade he will go into/ regiment.

jcscot · 27/10/2007 10:37

27 is at the older end to be going to RMAS, but not unusual nowadays and the year he will spend there will be tough. My husband and I were engaged when he went through as a cadet and we found it hard. We've also seen RMAS life from the other end of the spectrum as he was later posted back there as a platoon commander and we had two wonderful years in Camberley.

You will be separated for that year - there is no entitlement to housing until he gains his commission. For the first five weeks of first term, there's no leave at all. After that, he gets every fourth (I think) weekend off. If you choose to rent a flat/house nearby - rather expensive in that part of the world - be aware that he won't be allowed home at nights. If they get the odd spare bit of time off, he could come home and visit you but the Academy prefer that cadets live in the platoon lines. In the second term, he'll get every fourth weekend off, and the same in the third term. Leave between terms is generous (usually three weeks) but one of those weeks in the leave following the second term will be spent on a cadet expedition. Although you won't get to live with him, there is support out there and you must impress upon your husband the need to let his Platoon commander know of any potential issues that may arise during his time there (if you or your daughter have any ongoing health issues, for example). The more the staff are informed, the more they can do to help - although all this will be balanced against the need for your husband to complete all parts of his training. Make sure that - wherever you are in the country - you have all the help and support you need from family and friends. A year is a long time in a marriage and there will be times when it all seems very difficult indeed and that's when you'll need people you can trust around you.

I'm sure you already know this - the regt/corps that sponsor your husband may not take him at the end of the course, so don't plan too much based on what and where you might be going after RMAS. During the year, he'll get the chance to register an interest in up to four cap badges, which are whittled down to two in the last term. He'll be interviewed by both regt/corps and then he'll find out who has accepted him. If he's lucky, he'll get a choice. If he's really unlucky and neither of his choices can offer him a place, one of the other cap badges will offer him a place - so don't worry too much! My husband went through RMAS sponsored by the RE and ended up joining an entirely different part of the Army because he changed his mind as he got to know more about what other branches of the Army can offer.

Once he's left RMAS, he'll go to his Young Officers' Course. From this point on, you'll be entitled to housing. Basic officers' housing can vary as much as soldiers. You usually have three bedrooms and the quality/standard can be excellent or it can be rather ghastly. After that - well it really differs from cap badge to cap badge but, believe me, it can be a wonderful life.

I hope all this helps - if you want to know anything more, just ask!

jcscot · 27/10/2007 10:57

I'm correcting myself here, but my husband just informed that some of the rules concerning quarters have changed. Sorry to be handing out old information!

According to him, you can get a quarter - just not at Sandhurst. The nearest you will be allocated will be Aldershot (which isn't far away at all). You get allocated a soldier's quarter. For the first term, your husband can only come home/stay with you during official leave time. During the second/third term he can apply for permission to come home twice a week on top of the usual allocated leave. Obviously, you don't have to take the quarter (and I don't what the quarters are like in Aldershot) if you prefer to stay near friends and family.

makapaka · 27/10/2007 14:47

Thanks jcscot. Sounds like it is not as bad as some of the horrer stories we have been told. My DH is also being sponsored by the RE. My brother is currently a Captain in the RE so we know a bit about that regiment, but he will probably end up liking something completely different.

OP posts:
Scootergrrrl · 27/10/2007 15:10

Another army wife over here (Dh been in for eight, married for six)! My advice would be not to have any expectations - it might be better than you expect or it might be worse but at least you have no preconceptions to deal with.
And the very best of luck to him! Is he going in from the TA or is this his first experience of the army too?

jcscot · 27/10/2007 17:39

My advice would be not to have any expectations - it might be better than you expect or it might be worse but at least you have no preconceptions to deal with.

Very good advice - I tend to take each posting as I find it. That way, some are better than others but I can (nearly) always find the positives in wherever we've lived.

One last addendum to the quarter-while-training info: there appear to be no hard and fast rules and it seems as though things are decided on a case by case basis. I don't know (and neither does my husband) what criteria you have to meet or what the process is. Perhaps once he gets his joining instructions for the course there'll be some more (accurate!) info, or maybe your husband could ask his recruiting officer.

Has he been allocated a course yet?

makapaka · 27/10/2007 18:39

Has got his AOSB main board in three weeks. Hoping to go to RMAS in January or June if possible. I am not planning on moving up to Camberley as my job and family are down in the west country so will stay here for the year.

Scootergrrl - first taste of army. So will be a bit of a culture shock for him. Not so much for me as I sort of come from a military background.

I do have a conundrum which I would like thoughts on. We do want at some point to have another baby. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be virtually a single mum at times. Any thoughts on when to have new baby, ie at RMAS or once posted.

OP posts:
Scootergrrrl · 27/10/2007 18:46

I don't think there's any good time to be a virtual single mum - DH was here when DD, now almost four, was born and wasn't deployed until she was 2.5 thanks to a lucky combination of desk jobs and courses
DS was born in UK, we then moved to Germany when he was seven weeks old and DH went to Afghanistan a month later. THat was quite difficult...
Chances are he will be deployed at some point in his first two year tour so maybe Sandhurst would be the time to do it. At least he'll be in the country!

makapaka · 27/10/2007 18:50

Thats what I was thinking Scootergrrrl. Best get a move on in that case!!!

OP posts:
jcscot · 27/10/2007 19:59

There's never an ideal time to have a baby when your husband is in the Army, as the situation could change at any time. If you were able to have the baby while he was in training, at least you would know he was in the country. However, the cadets are phenomenally busy and away quite a bit on exercise over the course of the year which might make it difficult if he wanted time off when the baby was born (unless you were lucky enough to give birth during a block leave period!).

Most YO's courses are at least four months long, so perhaps trying to plan the birth for just after he is commissioned would be a good idea.

Really, it's swings and roundabouts - there will be no 'good' time once he's in the Army.

Do let us know how he gets on at RCB.

Scootergrrrl · 27/10/2007 20:17

Agree with jscot - block leave definitely the best time!

Get that calendar out and make sure you time it properly... Ot else make him get a desk job for his first posting.

makapaka · 27/10/2007 21:30

Block Leave - good advice. I will try and find out a bit more about term dates. Anyone know how long each term is?

OP posts:
Scootergrrrl · 28/10/2007 07:59

Like school terms as far as I remember.

jcscot · 28/10/2007 09:59

Each term at Sandhurst is 14 weeks long. If he starts in January, he'll finish at the beginning of December. If he starts in June, he'll finish in April.

Desk jobs are unusual for new officers - they usually go to section/platoon command as a first job - but, of course, there may be exceptions to this depending on the cap badge.

makapaka · 28/10/2007 17:47

Thanks for that. Will have to sit down with calender and make a plan. (try to anyway. Not sure babies follow plans that closely!)

OP posts:
KylieLou · 05/09/2008 01:49

Hello All, My Fiance is about to join the army, he is 20 and i'm 19. We want to get married after i have passed my AAT accounting course, but i'm terrifed as i dont know what army life as a wife is like? He spoke to a Sargent about marriage in his interview and said that if you are married you get marriage Quarters so you can be with your wife, but for starters i dont know what the army quarters are like? im really confused and scared cuz i want to be with this man for the rest of my life and i know that, but im worried cause i dont know what to expect, i know we will be sepearated as we arnt married, but could anyone please give me any advice on what marriage quarters like, and what it is like to be an army wife, much appreciated. Thanks Kylielou

kerryk · 05/09/2008 08:38

i am a army wife, married dh when i was 19 and it was a culture shock to start with moving away from my family and friends.

i have been lucky with quarters, they are not all bad but have had to put in a lot of work (and some money) to get them the way i want them.

the lifestyle is great, i love being a army wife, i really get involved in everything that goes on in the camp and volunteer at youth clubs etc.

i have made some fantastic friends, i still keep in touch with a lot of civvie mates but its nice to have a group of mates who are in the same boat as me.

if you want to know anything specific just let me know

hf128219 · 05/09/2008 09:08

Ask away Kylie! Where is he going to be based/doing his basic training?


Don’t want to miss threads like this?


Sign up to our weekly round up and get all the best threads sent straight to your inbox!

Log in to update your newsletter preferences.

You've subscribed!

KylieLou · 05/09/2008 10:57

Firstly thank you so much Kerry and HF128219 for answering me

Im not sure where he is going to be based as he doesnt find out for another 2 weeks because he is going away for 5days to Fareham for a 5 day experience.

All i want to know really is the army life worth giving up everything for? and what are the quarters like, like do u have your own house, do you share a house? what rooms do you have like, kitchen etc.

My Fiance is assigned to be a driver for the logicistics core but he is changing it after his 14week training, so he won't be relocated all the time, what does your husbands do?

Also what is DH? everyone has been saying married DH? Thanks for your help

hf128219 · 05/09/2008 11:20

dh - is dear/darling husband! My dh is an officer in the Army. I am just going out - will reply properly later

KylieLou · 05/09/2008 11:30

thanks, speak soomn x

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.