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SLIDESHOW: Cadet group all ready for trip to visit battlefields

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 17, 2014

  • Margaret Stanhope Centre

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AIR cadets will be joined by dignitaries from across South Derbyshire as they embark on a trip to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Members of the 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron Air Training Corps, Royal British Legion and South Derbyshire District Council will mark 100 years since the start of the conflict by heading out to the battlefields of the Western Front tomorrow.

Organised by squadron pilot officer Matt Leedham, the visit will include visits to First World War battlefield sites, various war museums and war cemeteries.

The tour will culminate with a service at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.

The site is a war memorial dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War One, and whose graves are unknown.

The group will pay their respects and look to find names inscribed on the gate belonging to many members of the armed forces who originated in South Derbyshire and lost their lives fighting for their country.

Mr Leedham told the Mail: “We are really pleased to be part of an event which includes the Royal British Legion and the district council, led by chairman Ann Hood.

“This is an opportunity for all members of the South Derbyshire community to come together, from all age ranges, to mark this very historic occasion”

The crack South Derbyshire squadron was originally formed in Swadlincote’s Town Hall in 1941, with the support of the local council and former members of the Royal Air Force, many of whom had flown in the First World War.

Squadron commander Alyn Thompson said the trip would also open up other opportunities for the group of youngsters.

He said: “We also intend for our cadets to visit a high ropes course activity to give them a break from the formalities which an event like this will naturally incur.

“Pilot officer Leedham has done an excellent job in liaising with our partner organisations and I am extremely proud of him.

“This is our second trip overseas which he has arranged, with the squadron having visited Normandy last year.”

Last year a group of cadets visited France.

The aim of the trip was to see war memorials and historical sites around the north of the country.

The group paid their respects to the dead during a visit to the Bayeux War Cemetery.

The group also visited the Normandy American Cemetery and The British Memorial during their travels.

The squadron of more than 100 cadets hosts a huge range of activities at its base at Eureka Park, Swadlincote, while smaller teams take part in schemes across the area.

More information on the latest visit is available by visiting www.1211sqn.org.uk

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