Tri-service cadets from North Wales have just returned from a commemorative visit to France and Belgium.
Army cadets from Llandudno, Conwy and Colwyn Bay detachments joined sea cadets from TS Aberconwy and TS Rhyl, and air cadets from 418 (Aberconwy) and 271 (Colwyn Bay) RAF Air Cadet (RAFAC) squadrons.
The trip included a visit to the cemetery in Llandudno’s twin town of Wormhout, France, where cadets took part in Acts of Remembrance by laying a wreath and placing crosses on individual graves.
The cadets also visited the memorial site of La Plaine au Bois, which stands in remembrance of soldiers of The Royal Artillery, The Royal Warwickshire and The Cheshire Regiments, several of whom came from Llandudno.
The cadets joined the Mayors of Esquelbecq and Llandudno and the town-twinning delegations in a short act of remembrance, where they laid a wreath and later attended a civic event hosted by the Mayor of Wormhout.
The Mayor of Llandudno, Councillor Dave Hawkins said: “The cadets from Llandudno were once again superbly turned out. They were well drilled and professional and represented our town with dignity and respect. All cadet leaders should be proud of their troops.”
Councillor Greg Robbins, Chairman of the Llandudno Town-Twinning Committee, said: “The cadets were magnificent. Their presence brings a degree of gravitas to all of the twinning activities that everyone appreciates and helps build relationships with many in our twin town.”
The delegation also visited the Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Grave site in the world, and several other war cemeteries in Belgium.
The Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate
In addition to their visit to Wormhout, cadets from all three uniformed organisations participated in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
Hundreds of visitors and Service personnel attend the ceremony each evening, which has been held nightly at 8pm for over 80 years.
The cadet party was the first to lay a wreath underneath the arches before others were laid by representatives of organisations from across the world.
Nicholas Fiorita, an army cadet, said: “It was an honour to have been picked and go to France and Belgium on the tri-Service cadet trip. Commemorating the Wormhout massacre and visiting several other cemeteries is an experience I will never forget.
“A new addition to the trip this year and a favourite of mine was taking part in the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate, which is one of the most beautiful and breath-taking monuments I have ever seen.
“As an army cadet from Llandudno Detachment, I had the added privilege of wearing the cap badge of soldiers who fell during the Wormhout massacre and to pay our unit’s respects at the site of this tragedy.
“I also carried the Royal Artillery Standard in the ceremony at the massacre site in the church and along the parade through the town. Knowing that by carrying the standard, I was able to keep all artillery men’s sacrifice and bravery alive was the best part of the trip.”
Other participants at the Menin Gate included West Mercia Police, led by Chief Superintendent Mark Travis, who said: “My officers were very impressed by the conduct of the North Wales cadets as they helped others remember the sacrifices of the First World War at the Menin Gate ceremony. They represented the UK and military services
with pride and professionalism. I wanted to thank them personally for helping to make the event so special.”
The trip was part-funded by the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) for Wales’ Welsh Reserves and Cadets Fund. The fund enables cadets and reserves in Wales to access extraordinary experiences and training, which equip with them with the skills and experience to develop and grow.
“The trip to France was the experience of a lifetime,” said Corporal James Friston from 271 (Colwyn Bay) Squadron RAFAC. “The staff and cadets from all sections were great and it was nice to have the opportunity to meet and get to know other cadets and see how cadet organisations work.
“I would like to thank the staff responsible for organising the trip for enabling me to have such an incredible experience – which has given me memories that will stay with me forever.”
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