NEWS

NOVEMBER 6TH 2018

Derbyshire Cadets Commemorate Armistice at WW1 Battlefields

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Cadets being shown a re-created trench during the trip

Derbyshire Army Cadet Force has taken more than thirty of its cadets on a five-day battlefield tour across France and Belgium in order to commemorate the centenary of the World War One Armistice.

The tour known as Exercise Wipers Eagle aimed to improve the cadets’ knowledge of the conflict and the part played by local men within the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment).

During the tour the Cadets took part in a commemorative service which was held at Tyne Cot Cemetery and also participated in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate during which the Commandant, Colonel Chris Doyle laid a wreath on behalf of the County.

Cadets at Thiepval Memorial

Cadets at Thiepval Memorial

Cadet Corporal Darragh Acton, aged 15, from Buxton, said: “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and an absolute honour to be able to walk in the footsteps of those before us, learning about the people and history behind some of the battles of World War One, it is something I’m not likely to forget.”

Whilst on the tour cadets went to the Somme battlefields in northern France and the Ypres region of Belgium where they visited Thiepval Memorial, Langemarck Cemetery, Sanctuary Wood, Passchendaele Memorial Museum, The Menin Gate and Spanbroekmolen Crater.

Cadet Lance Corporal Chloe Bignall, aged 15, from Derby said: “It was a moving experience to see the number of graves and the large amount of them that were unidentified and ‘Known only to God.’ At the end of the trip we paraded under all the names at the Menin Gate. It was a brilliant experience and it was such a great way to show our respect to the brave soldiers who fought and died for our country.”

In order to further understand Derbyshire’s link to the war the cadets visited the Ypres town ramparts where The Wipers Times, a satirical publication by soldiers of The Sherwood Foresters, was printed.

Cadet Sergeant Thomas Hayward, aged 16, from Chesterfield, said: “It was a truly unique and unforgettable trip which shows the Great War in a light that it is rarely portrayed in, with an interesting focus on the local men whose stories are seldom told in such detail.”

Cadet Corporal Emily Smith, aged 17, from Staveley, added: “We learnt about how people were affected by war and what trench warfare was like. It was also an eye opener when we went to the Commonwealth cemeteries and saw all of the unnamed graves, knowing someone is in that grave but we will never know who it was apart from the fact that they fought for our country to keep us safe.”

Alex McDermott, aged 14, from Belper, said: “It enabled us to remember the stories of soldiers that are seldom told, which meant those who died for us will always be remembered. A once in a lifetime experience I will never forget, shared with some amazing people.”

The tour was led by Major (Retd.) John Cotterill

The tour was led by Major (Retd.) John Cotterill

A number of the cadets had carried out research in advance about relations who were involved in the First World War, some of whom are buried in the area or remembered at Tyne Cot and The Menin Gate.

Cadet Sergeant Milligan Montgomery, aged 16, from Ashbourne, said: “The trip was a great learning experience as well as a memorable time finding my lost relative that fought in World War One. I was able to locate Stephen Cummings of 8th. Yorkshire Regiment, who died on 21 September 1916 and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.”

The battlefield element was led by Major (Retd.) John Cotterill of The Guild of Battlefield Guides who gave expert insight into the local individuals and the wider context of key battles.

Derbyshire Army Cadet Force is proud to be part of the Armistice commemorations of 2018. It is currently recruiting cadets and adult volunteers throughout Derbyshire. For more details visit armycadets.com, call the county staff on 01332 772025 or visit your local detachment (details available on the website).

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and an absolute honour to be able to walk in the footsteps of those before us, learning about the people and history behind some of the battles of World War One, it is something I’m not likely to forget.”


“We learnt about how people were affected by war and what trench warfare was like. It was also an eye opener when we went to the Commonwealth cemeteries and saw all of the unnamed graves, knowing someone is in that grave but we will never know who it was apart from the fact that they fought for our country to keep us safe.”


“It was a truly unique and unforgettable trip which shows the Great War in a light that it is rarely portrayed in, with an interesting focus on the local men whose stories are seldom told in such detail."