Cadets from 126 (City of Derby) Squadron took part in a moving ceremony of remembrance at a small cemetery in Normandy last week. The Cadets remembered Jack Banks, a forgotten hero of World War Two.
In Jerusalem Cemetery, Normandy, France, you will find the grave of Private Jack Banks. Jack was fifteen when he joined the Army and unbeknown to his parents, landed in France on 6th June 1944 to fight in Operation Overlord. Jack survived D-Day but was killed a month later near Tilly-sur-Seulles. He was only 16 years old.
49 Cadets and staff from 126 Squadron held a moving ceremony for Jack Banks in the small cemetery which holds only 48 graves. Each cadet stood behind a head stone for the ceremony. Almost everyone was close to tears as the last post was played by Cdt Cpl Bethan Linscott. Cadets then took time to reflect on the bravery of Jack who was no older than many of the cadets present.
126 Squadron were on their 8th annual overseas camp. The cadets visited Caen Peace Museum, Ste Mere Eglise, Arromanches and many other key sites from D-Day. The group also walked the length of Juno and Sword Beach from Bernieres-sur-Mer to Ouistreham and back. Cdt Cpl Rebecca Davies said, “the walk we did along the coast was fun. The sun was shining and the French people we met along the way were really friendly.”
The overseas camp was not all about the history of D-Day. Cadets were able to do a little shopping on a visit to Rouen. On Tuesday night the team enjoyed a comfortable night at the bowling alley – a break from their outdoor tents. They also enjoyed a traditional French meal in a restaurant close to their campsite. CWO Leon Aldred said, “This was my last camp as a cadet. It was definitely the best and I will remember it for a long time to come. The evening meal was amazing – the chocolate pudding was to die for!”
Due to the popularity of the annual overseas camps, the squadron staff are already preparing for next year.