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Unforgettable Journey to Ypres: Dyfed & Glamorgan ACF Cadets Explore WW1 Battlefields

26 June 2023

In June, an extraordinary group of 86 Cadets and 14 CFAVs from Dyfed & Glamorgan ACF embarked on a remarkable adventure, supported by an ACCT UK grant. Their destination: Ypres, Belgium, a place steeped in history and significance.

They set out to immerse themselves in a two-day battlefield study that would leave a lasting impact. Their journey took them to numerous cemeteries, poignant reminders of those who sacrificed their lives during the Great War. Walking amidst the hallowed grounds, the cadets paid their respects and learned about the battles that were won and lost. It was a humbling experience, one that brought history to life.

Day One

The tour commenced at Lijssenthoek Cemetery, where the cadets were divided into groups to locate soldiers’ resting places and gain insights into their lives. This experience shed light on the profound impact of the war, revealing how it had changed and affected numerous lives. Some even discovered ancestral connections, deepening the emotional significance of the tour.

Moving on to Zillebeke, they explored the soldiers’ living conditions and immersed themselves in a museum brimming with war memorabilia. The realisation that the seemingly tranquil Belgian countryside held a rich history of sacrifice left a lasting impression.

The poignant visit to Tyne Cot, with its multitude of graves and names, touched their hearts. Reenergised, they eagerly anticipated further explorations into the lessons of history.

Day 2

They dedicated the morning to delving into the history of the Worcestershire Regiment and their significant role in the war. The realisation that they stood on the very ground where these momentous events unfolded was a sobering reality check for all of them. The cadets paid a visit too and laid a wreath at the Welsh Cromlech, a memorial on Pilckem Ridge to all the Welsh Soldiers and Service Personnel who were lost during WWI, this is especially poignant to our cadets as the unit raised over £10,000 towards the building of the memorial.

Next on their itinerary was Hill 62, named for its elevation of 62 metres above sea level. This location served as a sanctuary for soldiers to replenish supplies and regain strength for the war. Exploring the trenches and tunnels offered them a glimpse into the soldiers’ experiences and living conditions. Moreover, they had the opportunity to learn about more historical artefacts, expanding their knowledge further.

Their final destination on the tour was Langemark German Military Cemetery. There, they witnessed how the opposing side chose to bury their fallen servicemen and women according to their own customs, which underscored the losses suffered by all parties during World War I.

The Tour came to a very moving end with a parade at the Menin Gate where a selected member of the staff and cadets laid wreaths in memory of all who lost their lives and Major Richard Holder recited the Exhortation to the huge crowd gathered for the Act of Remembrance to all who died during the conflict.

“We are immensely grateful to ACCT UK, who generously granted £100 per cadet! This is our first battlefield tour since before COVID-19, and without this grant, many cadets and their families would have been unable to afford the trip. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on families worldwide, and the added expenses of events like battlefield tours are often beyond their means. This experience has been truly exceptional for us as cadets, creating cherished memories that will endure a lifetime. We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in planning, organising, and joining us on this battlefield tour, providing us with this invaluable opportunity.”

Cpl Skellon Ty Llewellyn Detachment ( A Coy); LCpl O’Connell Gabalfa (A Coy)

“Overall, the trip to Belgium was one of the best experiences in my life so far as I made new friends, learnt more about the Great War and more – I am truly glad for joining the Army Cadet Force as I don’t know where I would be without it!

Thank you to all that helped to make this trip happen ! “

Cadet Cpl Measey – Neyland Detachment, E Squadron

“It was an excellent experience for all involved as they had not been on an ACF event such as this and it wouldn’t have been possible for many without the help of a generous donation from ACCT UK and RFCA Wales.”

Maj R A Holder, Assistant Commandant, Dyfed & Glamorgan Army Cadet Force

This trip was support by ACCT UK Grant. If you are looking to take part in a similar expedition and need to fund your trip, you can apply today, here.

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