Army cadets visit First World War battlefields in France and Belgium at camp
PUBLISHED: 13:15 14 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:13 02 June 2010
ADVENTURE ABOUNDS FOR FENLAND CADETS
Between 25th July and 9th August 300 of Cambridgeshires army cadets - including 20 from Fenland - experienced their most exciting annual camp ever near Folkstone in Kent - and also at two famous locations in Europe.
County cadets took a break from traditional training programmes with three distinct levels of activity to satisfy the needs of the eager 12 to 18 year olds. The British Armys world renowned Cinq Ports shooting ranges provided the backdrop for nine days of challenge and adventure and no fewer than two European trips were also on offer a tour of the WW1 battlefields of France and Belgium and an outward bound expedition to the rugged scenic landscapes of the Allgau in Southern Bavaria.
The cadets and their instructors travelled 125 miles by coach to take up residence at Napier Barracks the home of the Royal Gurkha Rifles at Folkestone on the South East coast and tackled some changeable summer weather throughout their annual break.
There was certainly a full programme of activities, said County Training Officer Major Trevor Cox who had personally designed the in-camp elements of the package. Having access to some of the best shooting ranges in the UK and extensive surrounding landscapes meant that all cadets could learn valuable skills using first class facilities.
Once they had settled into the camp, junior and intermediate level cadets each undertook two day training programmes in military skills including first aid, signals, and the use of map and compass as part of the unique army proficiency certificate syllabus. The training prepared them for a two day exercise during which they put their newly acquired skills into practice living independently under the stars. The outdoor adventure was followed up with supervised .22 target rifle shooting and clay shooting. There was also a first opportunity to use the new cadet A2 5.56mm rifle introduced earlier in the year. To round off their experiences swimming competitions took place at nearby St John Moore Barracks.
Meanwhile, in addition to the UK activities, the more senior cadets had been gearing up for adventures further afield in Flanders. There were two clear objectives for the European trip, said Lt. Colonel Mark Knight MBE from Wisbech St Mary. We provided an opportunity for the cadets to trace the history of their former County regiment The Cambridgeshires by visiting the scene of their greatest action during WW1, and also enabled them to take part in one of the famous evening memorial parades held at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium
The group crossed the channel by ferry to stay for two nights at their base - the Chateau DEbblinghem, near St Omer in Northern France whilst they toured famous WW1 battlefields and memorials including Schwaben Redoubt, Vimy Ridge, Tyne Cot, Langemark, Hill 62 and Essex Farm Cemetery. It was here that the youngsters witnessed the starkest aspect of service to their country when they saw the grave of a 15 year old soldier who had given his life for freedom.
Later - on 28th July - led by their own scarlet coated Corps of Drums the 110 cadets paraded through streets lined with hundreds of spectators to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate memorial where every evening since November 1918 the town of Ypres has stopped at 8pm to honour fallen heroes, many of whose names adorn the walls of the gate itself. The memorial service was led by The Reverend Alan Jesson TD Chaplain to the cadets and Minister to the two parishes of Upwell and Outwell near Wisbech.
The next day the cadets visited the place where ninety three years ago, 32 Cambridgeshire men gave their lives and 218 were wounded on the desolate battlefields of the Somme during ferocious hand to hand fighting taking the German stronghold known as the Schwaben Redoubt in October 1916 - The first battalion of the Cambridgeshire Regiment won a record 42 gallantry awards on just that one day.
I had a great time said Cadet Trevayne Smith (17) from Chatteris, a student at Cromwell School. I joined the cadets last September and the things I have done are fantastic. Cadet L/Corporal Rebecca Hare-Mitchum (17) from Wisbech agreed. As a senior cadet she went on the Europe trip and loved every minute of it. It was the highlight of my life parading at the Menin Gate Memorial and playing the flute in the Corps of Drums, she said.
Elsewhere on the continent, a band of 47 intrepid cadet explorers led by Captain Steve Swann were about to venture to the Allgau region of Bavaria between 1st and 9th August to take part in canoeing, climbing and mountaineering. Their expeditions included 2, 3 and 4 day excursions through some of the most rugged and beautiful scenery in the world. Relaxation time included swimming and a visit to Schloss Neuschwanstein - a 19th-century Bavarian palace near Hohenschwangau and Füssen in southwest Bavaria which completed the whole mountain experience.
Strong interest and support for the cadets throughout their camp was shown by visits from several important visitors including Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire Hugh Duberly CBE; Chief Executive of East Anglia Reserve Forces & Cadets Association, Colonel Julian Lacey CBE, DL, and Chairman of the Cambridgeshire RFCA Forum, Colonel Derek Bristow, OBE, DL.
After the camp had ended County Commandant Colonel Roger Herriot said, This years camp has been one of our most ambitious and successful to date. The challenge that we have delivered to these young people has equipped them with experiences and skills which will be of benefit to them throughout their lives. We are particularly grateful to all of the visiting instructors who took part, particularly members of 1st and 3rd Battalions of our parent Regiment the Royal Anglians
Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force is recruiting cadets and adults near you now. Find out more by calling 01223 862949 or by visiting www.cambsacf.com
Pictures supplied: Cadets from Fenland visit the Schwaben Redoubt scene of heavy battle in 1916
The Reverend Alan Jesson leads the memorial service at Menin Gate
Staff Sergeant Instructor Gemma Wickes from March ready for the field exercise
Cadet Trevayne Smith (13) from Chatteris takes a well earned break
Rebecca Hare-Mitchum (17) (far left) on parade at Menin Gate in Ypres
ARMY cadets from Fenland visited two famous locations in Europe during their annual camp. The 20 cadets joined more than 200 from Cambridgeshire at Folkestone for nine days of challenge and adventure. Two European trips were included – a tour of the Firs
ARMY cadets from Fenland visited two famous locations in Europe during their annual camp.
The 20 cadets joined more than 200 from Cambridgeshire at Folkestone for nine days of challenge and adventure.
Two European trips were included - a tour of the First World War battlefields of France and Belgium, and an outward bound expedition to the Southern Bavaria.
County Training Officer Major Trevor Cox said: "There was certainly a full programme of activities. Having access to some of the best shooting ranges in the UK and extensive surrounding landscapes meant that all cadets could learn valuable skills using first class facilities."
The more senior cadets went further afield into Europe.
Lt Colonel Mark Knight from Wisbech St Mary said: "We provided an opportunity for the cadets to trace the history of the former county regiment, The Cambridgeshires, by visiting the scene of its greatest action during WW1, and also enabled them to take part in the famous evening memorial parades held at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium."
Led by their own Corps of Drums the 110 cadets paraded through the streets lined with hundreds of spectators to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate. The memorial service was led by the Rev Alan Jesson TD - Chaplain to the cadets and minster to the two parishes of Upwell and Outwell.
Cadet Travayne Smith, 17, from Chatteris said: "I joined the cadets last September and the things I have done are fantastic."
Cadet L/Corporal Rebecca Hare-Mitchum, 17, from Wisbech agreed. As a senior cadet she went on the trip to Europe
"It was the highlight of my life parading at the Menin Gate Memorial and playing the flute in the Corps of Drums," she said.
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