126 (City of Derby) Squadron have paid tribute to the thousands of soldiers who died in the D-Day landings, with a remembrance ceremony on Juno Beach in Normandy, France. The remembrance ceremony was made all the more poignant when the cadets met a Canadian veteran who landed on Juno Beach on 6th June 1944.
Thirty-three cadets from Derby visited Normandy from 24th to 30th October. The highlight of their visit was meeting a World War Two Veteran on Juno Beach. Bud Hannam was visiting friends who own the first house to be liberated on Juno Beach in the town of Bernieres-sur-Mer. Bud recounted some tear jerking stories from his time in Normandy. He then invited the cadets to have a private tour of the first liberated house.
The next day, the cadets performed a remembrance ceremony in the main square of Bernieres-sur-Mer. The Mayor of the town thanked the young cadets for taking the time to remember those who had fought to provide freedom to the people of Bernières-sur-Mer and the surrounding towns. During the ceremony, Cadet Corporal Jordan Prince and Cadet Lewis Ricketts laid a wreath at the town memorial.
During the week, the cadets visited Pegasus Bridge and Merville Battery. They visited the British cemetery at Ranville and the American cemetery at Omaha. The best museum visit was to the Grandcamp Maisy Battery.
Cadet Corporal Rebecca Davies said, “The Grandcamp Maisy Battery is an amazing Museum. You can explore the miles of original trenches and you can see the remains of many of the buildings used by the Germans who occupied the battery until 9th June 1944 .”
126 Squadron had a break from the history of D-Day on the Wednesday and paid a visit to Rouen. The cadets spent the day exploring the winding cobbled streets and timber framed buildings. They visited the tomb of Richard the Lion Heart in the dramatic cathedral and the spot in the main town square where Joan of Arc was burned to death.
Flying Officer Jackie Glover was responsible for putting together the program for the week. She said, “This has been another incredible overseas camp for 126 Squadron. Every year we find new museums and historic sites to visit. This year was made all the more realistic when the cadets met the Canadian veteran. His stories were very moving and made the cadets realise how brave the young soldiers were on D-Day.”