Cdt Calum Carslaw from 1224 (Wharfedale) Squadron, based on Ashlands Road in Ilkley recently travelled to Belgium with the National Air Cadet Pipes and Drums to parade at the Menin Gate in Ypres, and visit the battlefields of World War One.
The band was formed from cadets from Scotland and Northern Ireland, Central and East Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, and London and South East Region. This very special event was planned to coincide with the World War One Centenary and was supported by Commandant Air Cadets, who laid a wreath on behalf of the Air Training Corps and read the exhortation during the service.
Cadets from Scotland and Northern Ireland travelled south on the 18th February to Folkestone, near Dover, and stayed the night in barracks before a very early departure at 0500 to the ferry. All the cadets were treated to a hearty breakfast on the boat followed by an extensive look through the duty free shops. Once in France, the coach travelled to Tyne Cot commonwealth cemetery and the cadets were given an opportunity to understand the importance of the trip. After lunch in Ypres, they travelled to Langemark cemetery, where many Germans are buried in mass graves - a very distinct difference to the commonwealth cemetery - and back to Ypres to prepare for the evening’s performance.
After a short practice in the church hall, the cadets were allowed some free time to see Ypres before having to return to the church hall to get changed into kilts. The band warmed up, then got into position to set off at 1930. At 2000, the band arrived at the Menin gate. During the service, after the buglers had played the last post, Cadet Carslaw played the solo lament - Flowers of the Forest. After marching back to the bus, everything had to be packed away quickly to ensure they caught the late ferry.
The trip was a success and a worthwhile event to take part in. The Air Cadet Pipes and Drums are hoping to perform in the Combined Cadet Forces massed pipes and drums at Inverness and Edinburgh Castle this year and hopefully performing for the Queen at Balmoral.