The band of 1084 (Market Harborough) Squadron ATC returned for the 12th time to Poperinge and Ypres (Belgium). The 32 cadets played on four occasions during visit over the weekend of Feb 29 to Mar 3. This year they were accompanied by Harborough District Council Chair, Cllr Peter Callis and his wife.
Cllr Callis paid tribute to the cadets ‘I was delighted to be invited to spend time with them and they made myself and my wife feel very welcome. I was impressed by everything they did; they are a credit to the youth of Harborough District. I must also pay tribute to the staff for their hard work in organising and running this trip.’
On Friday evening the band led a parade consisting of Lutterworth Royal British Legion, police and firemen to the Menin Gate in Ypres. Here the band entertained the large crowd before the Last Post Ceremony was performed by the Ypres firemen. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Squadron and Market Harborough Royal British Legion by FS Sam Tomlinson (18 from Market Harborough) and Flight Lieutenant John Standish.
Cllr Callis laid a wreath on behalf of Harborough District Council
On Sunday the Squadron performed a Last Post ceremony at Tynecot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the World. Here the First Alderman of Zonnebeke, Mr Franky Bryon, and Cllr Callis jointly laid a wreath.
Cllr Peter Callis (Chair Harborough District Council) and Mr Franky Bryon (1st Alderman of Zonnebeke, Belgium) laying a wreath at Tynecot Cemetery
After lunch the band played in a 3-hour Carnival extravaganza through the streets of Poperinge. Cadet Gemma Dixon (age 13 from Great Glen) described the atmosphere “This was my first time and it was amazing. I enjoyed every minute despite the long parade; it was great to be able to play in such a fun environment”
FS Helen Greaves (age 18 from Theddingworth) with a local ‘carnivaleer’ at Poperinge (Belgium)
When the band was not playing the cadets visited 1st War battlefields and cemeteries in the Ypres Salient listening in silence as they heard of the horrors of the war and saw the graves of those who gave their lives,
both German and British.
These included soldiers who were ‘shot at dawn’, and the grave of medical officer Noel Chavasse who won the VC and Bar in WW1. The weekend had its lighter moments, and as well as the carnival the cadets enjoyed a disco and a games evenings organised by the staff.
Flight Lieutenant Valerie Smith, CO of the squadron commented. “It is vital that the youth of today get a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by generations before. It helps to bring home the realties of war and increases their understanding of Remembrance Sunday and the work of the Royal British Legion. The cadets were fantastic both in their playing and the high level of interest and understanding they showed during the battle field visits.”
Article submitted by Flt Lt John Standish, Media Officer 1084 (Market Harborough) Squadron