Royal Marine Cadet Alex Whipp
I joined Windsor and Eton Sea Cadet Unit in February 2014 as a Royal Marines Cadet. I quickly learnt how to do some basic drill movements and wear my uniform. I was learning strange new words used in the Sea Cadets. A building was “a ship” and I went “on board” and went “ashore!”
I was given the opportunity to go to Normandy in France with Southern Area Sea Cadets with another cadet from the Detachment. I needed to get a passport, so Mum and Dad applied for it. It arrived a day after the group left for Normandy! When I found out that my passport had arrived. I was over the moon to be given the opportunity to be involved in such a fantastic historical event. Dad took me over on the ferry as an overnight foot passenger so I could then meet up with my unit in Normandy.
We visited several war memorial cemeteries and I knew that it had been a massacre but I had not fully appreciated the death toll until I saw all the graves. We went to an airborne museum that had an AC130 plane exhibit, a glider exhibit and also an exhibit on what it was like to be a parachutist and to jump from a plane. It was like actually stepping out of an airplane as the floor was made of glass and the underneath was a mini model of land. I felt like I was going to fall over.
I took part in the recreation of the 47 Royal Marine Commando walk from Gold Beach to Port en Bessin, which is about 14 miles. Along the way I chatted to a Royal Marine Corporal who had just got back from serving in Afghanistan.
There were two parades that I took part in, the first was at the 47 Royal Marine Commando Memorial were I was given the honour of reading out the names of 20 men who had been killed in the battle for Port en Bessin. The Commandant General Royal Marines, Maj Gen Ed Davis CBE RM, then shook my hand and left a 2 Star General Medallion in my hand. I felt really proud to have read out the names and to be given the medallion. The second parade was the Captain Cousins Memorial. Captain Cousins lead an assault onto the eastern feature of Port en Bessin and succeeded in taking out the final strongpoint held by the Germans, but unfortunately he was killed doing so.
I really enjoyed the whole experience of Normandy and talking to the veterans. I would like to thank you for providing the funding for me to go.
For more information on the Royal Marine Cadets please visit http://www.sea-cadets.org/royal-marines-cadets