Remembrance in the Army Cadet Force

Lara Henwood, CFAV in City of London & NE Sector ACF and ACCT UK Grants Officer

11 November 2021

Battlefield Tour

“We will remember them”, words first published in The Times on 21 September 1914 from the poem ‘For the Fallen’ by Robert Laurence Binyon. Four words that the public repeat on Remembrance Sunday every year but for members of the Army Cadet Force they are a solemn promise upheld with events that are planned throughout the year.

These events vary from celebrating Regimental Days (honouring specific historic battles), fundraising to support our veterans and their families (Royal British Legion, ABF The Soldier’s Charity etc), conducting Battlefield Studies to educate our cadets and CFAVs, all culminating with the Remembrance Services held in November across the nation.

In 2018, my 14th year of volunteer service as a CFAV, I realised that I had not yet participated in a Battlefield Study and equally there hadn’t been a Sector (County) led one for nearly a decade. As it was the Centenary year of the Armistice (WW1), those fours words came to mind and I knew that this was an opportunity to change those facts not only for myself but for the cadets within COLNES ACF.

With this new personal goal, I set out to plan not only my first Battlefield Study but my first overseas activity as well! I sought authority to plan from all the relevant departments and Ex Armistice 2019 was founded; A four-day Battlefield Study to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28th 1919, endling the conflict of World War One.

44 cadets and 5 CFAVs travelled to Belgium and France, they saw first-hand the battlefields on the Western Front, was immersed in an interactive experience at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, participated in the Menin Gate Ceremony and visited the Armistice Museum in the Forest of Compiègne. Our final day was in Paris; starting off with some crepes at the Eiffel Tower, concluding at the Palace of Versailles and the Hall of Mirrors.

This experience from concept to reality, would be one that I would recommend to another CFAV without hesitation – was it easy? No, but nothing worth doing is easy! Whilst on our trip, one of my cadets wrote a poem during their downtime;

Reflection

Today we followed the footsteps of many,
To those whom lost their lives and families just given a penny*.

A thousand graves upon our eyesight,
Of those who put up the worthy fight.

Proud to wear our uniform,
For the ones who we loved and mourn.

There was no choice but to be in the ‘Great War’,
Yet, we will respect them forever more.

As the poppies blow in Flanders Field,
We cadets kneeled to those whom were killed.

Cadet Jessica Tilley 45 Cadet Detachment

*Referring to the “Dead Man’s Penny”

This poem alone, made those 12 months of planning and organisation worth it. I knew at that moment the influence we wield as CFAVs is greater than ourselves, I knew that with this single event I passed the torch of remembrance on to the next generation.

“We will remember them”

The majority of our funding came from a grant we received from ACCT UK, this grant made this trip accessible for all our cadets and CFAVs, not only a select few that could afford it.

Historically, Battlefield Studies have been ACCT UK’s bread and butter when it comes to awarding grants to ACF Counties. Be it mainland or overseas, residential or non-residential, museum visits or interactive experiences, we have supported them all!

In 2013, ACCT UK allocated £5,000 worth of grant funding for every ACF County to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War. Between 2014 – 2018 we awarded over £151,000 to 35 ACF Counties towards Battlefield Study activities alone.

The current global conditions may mean that overseas Battlefield Study activities will be limited but perhaps then we should look closer to home; The National Memorial Arboretum, The Bovington Tank Museum and Dover Castle and the Secret War Time Tunnels to name just a few of UK’s interactive experiences.

I shall leave you with a parting question from CFAV to CFAV – have you passed the torch of remembrance on?

If you want to know more about ACCT UK Activity Grants or wish to know how to apply please click https://acctuk.org/support-for-volunteers/grants/

Please note we will always recommend applying a minimum of 6 weeks prior to the start of the activity.

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