Scout Active Support Trip to the Battlefields
The Scout Active Support team organised a three day trip to the Battlefields and after a year of planning it took place from 9th - 11th October. In the 100th year marking the Centenary of the end of the war, 41 members spent three days in glorious sunshine visiting some of the most inspiring memorials and cemeteries.
We gathered early at Lower Grange Farm and had a very busy itinerary for the three days. On the first day we visited Ljssenthoeck CWGC Cemetery and Visitor Centre which was one of the largest military hospitals in the area. There was a listening wall with stories about some of those who had been there. We then drove to Ypres to check into our hotel. We all visited the In Flanders Field Museum which was very thought provoking and inspirational.
That evening some of the travellers went to see "Journey's End" which was staged in an old Gunpowder store - very atmospheric and brilliant staging of it. It felt like we were down in a trench with the actors only inches away.
The second day we went to Essex Farm Cemetery where John MacCrae is remembered for his poem "In Flanders Fields". We then went onto The Bluff which was an important strategic spot. After this we all went to the Passchedaele Memorial Museum and were fascinated with the objects on display. It also gave us an opportunity to see what it was like to be in a trench. Following this we went to Tyne Cot CWGC Cemetery which is the largest British cemetery on the western front with 11,500 graves. Two of our members, Tony and Gillian were able to find a grave belonging to a relative and pay their respects.
The evening was the highlight for some as we paid our respects at the Menin Gate Last Post Ceremony and Ken, Bunty and Beccy laid a wreath. It was very special with over 500 people watching all reflecting on the sacrifices made. The film director Peter Jackson read a poem.
The final day was busy too with a visit to the Canadian Vimy Ridge Memorial which was spectacularly beautiful in the glorious sunshine. We then went onto the visitor centre to see how the memorial had been constructed and see the trenches occupied by the Canadian forces. Following this we went onto Lochnagar Crater which was created by an explosion of 60,000 lbs of explosives - it was huge!
The penultimate destination was Thiepval Memorial which has been the scene of many French and British commemoration services. Some of us witnessed a school having a service and one of them playing the Last Post on the clarinet - very moving. Graham Hancock presented Beccy, Bunty, Ken and Jim with a memento on behalf of the group which was very much appreciated.
The final destination was the Newfoundland Memorial which has the regimental symbol of the caribou dominating the site. All too soon it was time to depart for the Eurotunnel and home. Tired but so pleased to have made the journey and everyone felt inspired by the sacrifices made on our behalf.