NEWS

OCTOBER 31ST 2018

Army Cadets travel to The Somme

Nottinghamshire Cadets at monument   reduced

Nottinghamshire Army Cadets at the 'Jock on the Rock' memorial to the 51st Highland Division

In the last week Army Cadets from across the East Midlands have travelled to Northern France where they had the opportunity to learn more about the First World War by taking part in a battlefield tour.

Cadets from Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland took part in the three day trip which was was part of a national campaign to mark 100 years since the armistice and give the cadets a greater insight into what life was like for soldiers during the war.

LNR ACF on parade at Thiepval Memorial

LNR ACF on parade at Thiepval Memorial

During the tour cadets visited battlefields and a recreation of a trench system to learn more about the conditions faced by soldiers, were given talks by historians about how the war developed, the technology used and the impact it had upon the 20th Century. The tour then culminated in a parade at the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.

16 year old Cadet Lance Corporal Tom Ledger, from West Bridgford Detachment, Nottinghamshire ACF, explained: “Looking at the rows and rows of headstones and the wall of names at Thiepval was haunting.

“My Great Grandfather Harold Witte was 15 years old when the war started. He lied about his age to enlist; I can’t imagine anyone of my generation doing that. They were so brave. For me it was important to learn about his role in the war and it was humbling to be able to wear his medals on parade.”

Colonel Jeremy Field MBE, a senior adult volunteer and Commandant of Lincolnshire ACF, explained: “It was a great privilege to attend with Cadets from Lincolnshire ACF on the Somme battlefields tour followed by a special service of remembrance at the awe inspiring Thiepval Memorial.

“The Cadets were humbled to read the inscriptions on the graves of those who died, many of whom were only a few years older than themselves.”

There was lots of time for reflection

There was lots of time for reflection

Cadet Gabriel Robertson, aged 14, from LNR ACF, explained: “It made me feel a great debt of gratitude to those that died and also proud to stand before the memorial in remembrance after one hundred years since the end of the Great War.”

Cadet Antony Eames, aged 16, from LNR ACF, added: “It made me feel grateful and gave me a better understanding of life. It was a lot to take in and a really breath taking experience.”

Cadet Lance Corporal Alexander Shaw, aged 15, from Lincolnshire ACF, said: “It was a real honour and a privilege to be able to visit. It was devastating to see first-hand the list of names on the memorial. It must have been a harrowing experience for them”

Cadet Lance Corporal, Thomas McQueen, aged 15, from Lincolnshire ACF, added:  “I really enjoyed the trip and learned a lot. I am very happy we went and although it was very sad it was good to see the monuments for myself”

In preparation for the battlefield tour the cadets were asked to research their families involvement in the First World War.

Cadet Lucie Gillmore from Ruddington in Nottinghamshire, discovered a heroic deed of her Great Great Grandfather Private Ernest Meads.

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Cadets looking at one memorial to the fallen

Ernest was sent to the Western Front along with other Members of 6th (Service) Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment, part 54th Brigade of the 18th Division.

On 21st September 1918 after advancing with members of his company towards German trenches Ernest found himself with only one round remaining for his Lee-Enfield Rifle.

In the final stages of the advance Ernest jumped into a trench occupied by German soldiers who were so shocked by his bold move they surrendered immediately.

His bravery was recognised by Major General Sir William Heneker who authorised the award of the Mention In Dispatches for his ‘Gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field.’

Lieutenant Richard Etherington, an adult volunteer with Nottinghamshire ACF added: “Not only was it important to take the Cadets to the monuments, battlefields and cemeteries to enable them to learn about the War we felt that they should gain an understanding of the human aspect of the conflict.

Cadet Lewis Dobney at grave of unknown soldier reduced

Cadet Lewis Dobney at grave of unknown soldier reduced

“Encouraging them to undertake the family research really gave the Cadets a deeper understanding and personal connection to the War.  

“Many of the Cadets started out knowing only their ancestors’ names but with support some were able to learn about their regiments and ships. Others found out about the specific deeds of individual soldiers and sailors using online resources.”

The battlefield tours were organised on a national level with more than 3,500 cadets from across the United Kingdom taking part and travelled in five groups of 700.

Thiepval Memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916.

“Looking at the rows and rows of headstones and the wall of names at Thiepval was haunting."


“Encouraging them to undertake the family research really gave the Cadets a deeper understanding and personal connection to the War."


“The Cadets were humbled to read the inscriptions on the graves of those who died, many of whom were only a few years older than themselves.”