Visit to battlefields & memorials of the Great War

Eleven Air Cadets from 372 (Barry) Squadron recently travelled to Europe to pay homage to those soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their countries in the great wars along with Air Cadets from Squadrons from No.1 Welsh Wing.  The visit took place over a long weekend and encompassed the war memorials and battlefields of Ypres Salient, in Belgium and the Somme, in France. 

The cadets stayed as guests of the Belgium Army in Ypres and during their time were able to parade with members of the local Fire Brigade performing the moving ‘Last Post’ ceremony at the Menin Gate.  As a sign of the greatest respect, the cadets laid poppy wreaths on behalf of the Royal British Legion and 372 (Barry) Squadron.

Cadet Calum Dowdell said, “We also went to Thiepval on the Somme to see where the fierce fighting took place.  When you stand on the battlefields, it’s amazing to think that in July 1916 this is where so many soldiers fought and died.”

Of course the cadets are fully aware of the consequences for war for every nation involved and they also made time to pay their respects at the Canadian War Memorial, Vimy Ridge and the memorial at Thiepval, which is dedicated to the 73,367 missing men of the Somme.  The cadets also paid their respects to the war dead at the following cemeteries: Tyne Cot, Passchendaele, and Langemarck.  The Cadets also visited the new Welsh Memorial on Flanders at Langemarck.

Officer Commanding 372 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Jason Horton, concluded, “It was a very busy few days with an enormous amount of travelling.  However, the cadets all felt that it was a worthwhile and emotional experience.  Seeing the battlefields and memorials at first hand brings history closer to our present and not just left in the past.  These men who died for their counties will not be forgotten by these cadets.  This visit was kindly supported by Barry Town Council grant for local organisations”.

The cadets who experienced this visit were: Luke Beecham, Calum Dowdell, Rhys Horton, Rhian Horton, Gethin Lodge, Natasja Gill, Lewys Blanc, Alex Cheeseley, Michael May, Kelton Bindley and Coffie Smith.

The Air Cadets are now looking forward to an action packed and challenging training programme including flying, gliding, shooting, sport, Duke of Edinburgh, leadership training and aviation related visits.

Air Cadets Act of Remembrance

Recently, Air Cadets from 372 (Barry) Squadron, remembered the 110 fallen Barry soldiers from the great wars; by laying a cross of remembrance on each of their graves at Barry cemetery, prior to Remembrance Sunday.    

The Air Cadets have again continued the work of Phyllis Wells; who had been tending to the war graves for over 60 years at Barry Cemetery.  The Cadets simple and yet poignant act of laying a cross and smartly saluting each headstone was very moving as the cadets remembered soldiers, sailors and airman many of whom were not much older than themselves at the time of their death.

Flight Lieutenant Jason Horton, Commanding Officer paid tribute to the Cadets for their assistance “the Air Cadets once again did a wonderful job today, paying their respects to the soldiers of Barry who made the ultimate sacrifice and they should be rightly proud of what they have done”.

This year was all the more poignant as the Cadets have recently returned from a trip to Belgium and France.  Their trip included visits to the Ypres Salient and Somme battlefields as well as memorials and cemeteries of world war one.

Gethin Lodge said “I went on the recent trip to Belgium and understand the sacrifices which these soldiers, sailors and airmen made.  I am proud to say that this is the third year that I have paid my respects in this way”

The Cadets who assisted were – Gethin Lodge, Ellis Hinton, Peyton Bradshaw, Bethan Klee, Tia Angove and Oliver Fudge.

As well as ceremonial and community duties the Air Cadets undertake many exciting activities and opportunities including flying, gliding, shooting, sports, adventure training, team building exercises, expeditions, visits and field craft training and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme expeditions.