Members of the local Swadlincote Air Cadets recently travelled to Belgium as part of their First World War commemorations where they visited several of the Great War battlefields and memorials.
As part of their ‘Fallen Heroes’ Project, the Cadets, Staff and Support Team took part in the nightly service at the Menin Gate and also in a parade at the Tyne Cot memorial both of which have the names of thousands of servicemen who have no known grave. Following on from this, the team travelled to the German War Cemetery at Langemark where they placed a cross to the German fallen.
Squadron Adjutant Ruth Morgan told us, “At each of the parades we gave the Cadets the opportunity to lead the ceremonies with different Cadets delivering the homilies and laying the wreaths. It was particularly poignant with Cadet Lewis Clamp (13) saying the Fallen Comrade speech in German”
Organiser, Squadron Training Officer Matt Leedham added, “Our Squadron has done a lot of investigation into the war and I believe that our Cadets have learned a great deal more from being there and seeing for themselves the sacrifice that was made 100 years ago. We also tried to break up the programme with other visits to a high ropes course and also to a water park along with a trip to an even earlier conflict at the Waterloo Battlefield which sees its own 200th Anniversary this year.”
The 1211 Squadron visited Belgium as part of their project last year along with members of the Council and Royal British Legion and as Squadron Commander Alyn Thompson told us, “Last year’s trip was an outstanding success and this year we wanted to give a greater number of Cadets the opportunity to gain an understanding of the war. We are hoping to undertake another visit with the Council and Legion in 2018 to mark the ending of the War.”
The Cadets of the 1211 Squadron get chances to take part in activities which are just not available to anyone else in the South Derbyshire area. Where else can a young teenager take control of an aeroplane and do aerobatics with a Royal Air Force Pilot for free? Swadlincote Cadets gain training which is incredibly useful not only if they join the military but also in civilian life.
Flt Lt Alyn Thompson
OC 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron