611 Visit Belgium WW1 Battlefields


611 (Woodvale) Squadron ATC were recently given the unique opportunity to travel to the First World War battlefields of France and Belgium.

The cadets were given permission from their respective schools and travelled as a unit across the channel.

Once they arrived the cadets visited memorials and sites of military significance. These included Tyne Cot cemetery which is the largest cemetery to commonwealth forces in the world. However, the staff ensured the cadets visited Langemark German cemetery to ensure they understood the scale of the conflict and that both nations paid the ultimate price.

The cadets agreed the highlight of the visit was the parade at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Cdt Sgt Walker and Flying Officer Kennaugh laid a wreath on behalf of the British Legion and the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).

The last post ceremony has taken place at the Menin Gate, every day since the end of the conflict at exactly 8pm. The only exception was during the four year German occupation of Ypres during the Second World War. The cadets were humbled by this experience. They were proud to represent their squadron and pay their respects.

The trip also included visits to museums in Passchendaele and Ypres and also to restored British and German trench networks. This brought the textbooks many had read prior to the visit, to life and they were able to understand the conflict from a personal perspective.
However, the cadets were given some free time and spent some time sampling Belgian chocolate and waffles and also explored the town of Ypres.

On their way back to the Zebrugge Ferry Port the group took the time to explore the Dunkirk beaches and Bruges.

Overall the cadets believed that it was an unforgettable experience and they were thankful to the staff at 611, for giving them the opportunity to represent the Air Training Corps abroad and improve their historical knowledge.