Members of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Army Cadet Force were recently treated to a unique experience on their tour of Belgium, which was aptly named “Exercise War Horse.” The cadets were led by their very own Dettingen Music Band, which added an extra layer of significance to their visit to some of the most important battle sites and war cemeteries in the country.
Exercise War Horse 2023 Success in Belgium
Over the Easter Holidays, Army Cadets from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight travelled to Flanders, Belgium to visit the World War One Battlefields of the Western Front supported by a grant from the Connaught Trust.
The tour was designed to give the cadets a sense of the scale and impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium, as well as the soldiers who fought and died there. Over the course of several days, the group visited numerous war cemeteries for both Allied and German war dead, paying their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Col Tim Hope MBE, Commandant Hampshire & Isle of Wight ACF
“I am immensely proud of the hard work and dedication of our Cadets and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers who travelled to Belgium over Easter and put on a string of great performances and acts of remembrance in and around Ypres, Belgium. A place of greatly significant military history and sombre acts of remembrance for many people. They were all a credit to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Army Cadet Force”.
The tour culminated in a poignant “drum head service” at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, the largest British and Commonwealth Cemetery in the world. The Dettingen Music Band provided a fitting musical backdrop to the service, playing several pieces that added to the solemnity of the occasion.
Later that same day, the cadets took part in a parade and musical performance at the Menin Gate. The daily “last post” ceremony is held at this historic site every evening at 8pm to remember those lost in the Great War. The cadets were honored to be a part of this moving ceremony and their music helped to make it all the more poignant.
The tour was a valuable experience for all involved, helping to instill a sense of respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made by previous generations. It also provided the cadets with an opportunity to showcase their talents and contribute to a fitting tribute to the fallen soldiers of the Great War.