Recently a group of 30 from Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force spent three days visiting the battlefield areas of the First World War. The group’s first poignant moment was when they visited Bedford House Cemetery and the grave of Pte W Denton of Abingdon, who died on 21st October 1914 while serving with the 2nd Bn of Ox & Bucks LI. Cadet Elliot Jeffries from Abingdon laid a spray of poppies.
On the second day, the group visited Essex Farm Dressing Station, where Canadian doctor Major John McCrae wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Field’, and the grave of Rfn Joe Strudwick of The Rifle Brigade, aged 15 when he was killed on 14th January 1916, one the youngest British casualties of the Great War and the same age as many of the cadets. The last visit of the day was to Tyne Cot Cemetery, with its 11,908 graves and on the back walls, regimental panels listing 34,927 soldiers who have no know grave. Cadet Jack Lane of Garsington laid a wreath at the central panel of three listing Ox & Bucks LI soldiers.
The main event of the tour was when the Oxfordshire ACF Band took part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate with the Commandant, Colonel David Carson, saying the Exhortation and laying a wreath.
On the last day, the group travelled to the Somme, visiting the Thiepval Memorial to the missing with 72,116 names engraved on it. Here three cadet buglers played Last Post, the Exhortation was spoken by Major Alan Hames, the tour co-ordinator, and Cadet Serjeant Jack Harman from Headington laid a wreath. Thus ended a moving and informative tour which left all with much to reflect on.
For more information on jopining the Cadets please visist www.serfca.org