24 October 2017
On Saturday 21st October a group of 40 cadets and 11 adults set out from Hollyhedge House, HQ of Greater London South East Sector ACF bound for the Ieper Salient in North West Belgium. Alarms went off before 5am but the enthusiasm was tangible as we rushed to make an early ferry crossing to France to start our Battlefield Study Tour of the area in and around Ieper.
After a very stormy crossing we arrived in Belgium and started off with a tour of several of the main battleground areas including Hill 60, not a huge hill but significant in the flat Flanders landscape where our guide Col. Simon Chapman former Commandant of Greater London South West sector started to colour in the background and bring the landscape to life with his compelling narrative style! The early start did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the cadets.
We then went on to visit a museum in the centre of Ieper - In Flanders Fields. In my enthusiasm to use my Dutch, everyone nearly ended up with a Dutch tout which I corrected at the last moment! Roadworks outside the hotel caused us a slight hiccough with luggage but we went on to enjoy a well earned evening meal and ended the day with the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate.
Sunday saw a slightly less early start but with a busy programme taking in Tyne Cot cemetery, Langemarck German cemetery. One museum was over booked but we used the time to spend some quality time in a cemetery with the notable grave of a soldier who received the VC and Bar, one of only three to do so.
Seral Hassan Staff Sergeant said: "The insight into the soldiers journey into the war was eye opening and emotional; we owe our lives to these brave men and women"
Anthony Ellison, 2Lt and group leader said: "this is a special place where you need to be with special people to appreciate what happened here and to become a citizen of Europe and the world to ensure we live in a harmony we all take for granted but which is so precious."
Some of the cadets commented: " I want to stay for longer and see more places, the guide was really knowledgeable and kind, thanks for bringing us"
Thanks to Lt Ellison, SSI Hassan and AUO Coates for the images. For more images of the trip please look at the Ypres album on Facebook.