Cadets from across Wales take part in unique Somme battlefield study

9 November 2017

During October half term 32 cadets from across Wales travelled to France as part of Exercise Dragon Reflect, a unique battlefield study at sites of the First World War. The study trip was particularly poignant as it happened in the build up to Remembrance Day, which many Cadets will mark in their hometowns with parades and fundraising activities.  

Colonel David Hammond, Colonel Cadets of Wales, said: “There were few households in Britain that were untouched by the events of the Great War. A century on, it’s unsurprising that the conduct of that global struggle figures large in the collective memory of modern Britain.

“In this centenary period of commemoration, it is especially fitting that our cadets and adult volunteers have the opportunity to gain greater understanding of the parts played by their forbears through Operation Reflect and Exercise Dragon Reflect.”

Operation Reflect and Exercise Dragon Reflect aim to ensure that people around the United Kingdom remember the sacrifices of Service Personnel, who fought to protect the freedoms and values that we now enjoy.

The long-running Operation Reflect competition was arranged and facilitated by 160th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Wales, the only Brigade to run a competition that takes the winners to the battlefields. 

Cadets across Wales competed to take part in Exercise Dragon Reflect by producing a Remembrance themed research project about Passchendaele. 

Following the project, four teams of cadets (from  Clwyd and Gwynedd, Dyfed and Glamorgan and Gwent and Powys ACF and from Treorchy School Combined Cadet Force) were selected to take part in the Exercise - and for many cadets this was their first experience of travelling abroad.  

The first stop for the cadets was a visit to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, followed by a number of other key sites including Fricourt Cemetery, where 17,000 German soldiers were buried, and the site where the 38th (Welsh) Division fought at Mametz Wood. At each of the key sites of the battlefield study tour the teams were challenged to produce a presentation, based on their research in to the sites and the back-stories of people who were part of the First World War.

The trip was led by experienced battlefield historian and guide Lieutenant Colonel Ian R Gumm TD and was funded under Operation Reflect, the Army's five-year commemoration of the First World War.