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.