The weekend of 26 and 27 July 2014 will live long in the memory for staff and cadets from 1359 (Beeston) Squadron, Royal Air Force Air Cadets. Over those two days they visited various WW1 sites as well as parading at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.
During their stay the cadets visited the Hooge Crater and Tyne Cot cemeteries, both of which are kept in immaculate condition by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They also visited the Sanctuary Wood Hill 62 trenches and museum all of which are located in the Ypres Salient where some of the biggest and bloodiest battles of World War One were fought. The female cadets on the visit were particularly interested in the cemeteries and spent time walking around the graves looking for possible “lost relatives”. All the male cadets agreed that the trenches were the most interesting aspect of the visit for them.
However the highlight for all the cadets and staff was the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate on the Saturday evening. The Squadron were honoured to lay two wreaths; Mrs Ann Middleton, 1359’s Civilian Committee Chairperson laid one on behalf of the Beeston Branch of RAFA whislt 1359’s Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Phil Bannister RAFVR laid one on behalf of the youth of the Borough of Broxtowe. They paraded behind the Army Cadet Forces band in perfect unison and were cheered along by locals and visitors alike.
Cadet Jessica Page said “It was an amazing trip. My favourite thing was parading through the Menin Gate, it was one of the proudest moments in my life, marching through the city with people who we had never met clapping and cheering us was amazing.”
Cadet Ashley Ellis commented “I think as a group of Cadets we became a little family and showed that respect and teamwork is the key to success. I have had an amazing time and with everyone’s help made some amazing memories that I will look back on for the rest of my life. My only wish is that I could do it all over again.”
Mrs Middleton was extremely proud of the cadets, “(they) were exceptionally turned out and step perfect, I am very proud to be part of the Squadron and to receive many appreciative complements on their behalf was wonderful.”
All the staff and cadets at 1359 would like to thank everyone who helped in raising funds and helped with the planning and running of the weekend but special thanks go to the Beeston RAFA Branch who very kindly donated £500 towards the costs of the trip.
CI Mike Hill