Remembrance Trip to FrancePosted on: 21/11/2018
As I am part of the Air Cadets, I have the opportunity to go on once in a lifetime trips and this was one of them, celebrating the centenary of both the Royal Air Force and the end of the First World War.
On the 7th of November I arrived in Ypres, Belgium, to partake in a parade for the sounding of the last post at the Menin Gate, remembering the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died at Ypres in World War 1. The next day, I was fortunate enough to travel around the border of Belgium and France to the different war memorials, including the Somme memorial in Thiepval, Canadian Memorial in Beaumont (which still had the trenches dug out) and the bomb site in Ovillers-la-Boisselle. It was all very moving.
On the 8th I also arrived to the main accommodation at a Nunnery in Jouarre, which was surprisingly nice and had plug sockets and WiFi, although it turned off at 8:30pm. On the Friday I was able to visit a Brie factory and a medieval place of worship for the Nuns. We also had lunch with french school children and then socialised in the evening with other cadets.
The Saturday morning was the first out of two days of armistice commemoration, where we visited many small memorials around Jouarre, La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre, Bassevelle and other small villages, all whilst managing our anticipation of a five course meal with the village Mayor. Sunday included us taking part in 3 parades, with the main one seeing us march from the town square of La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre to the British memorial, conveniently in the pouring rain. Once the commemoration at the British memorial has finished, we marched to the French memorial. That was us finished for armistice commemoration services.
On Monday we were fortunate enough to go on a day trip to Paris, which we took the train to. We took the metro from the train station to the Louvre Museum (Where the Mona Lisa is). We then walked to the Eiffel Tower, which took longer than expected. It was then onto the metro from the Eiffel Tower to the Train Station and then back to La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre, where we had dinner in a restaurant that served normal non-french food.
Tuesday we were just travelling back to Leicester by Coach and the ferry. The trip was amazing and it is great to be part of the centenary commemorations and all of the services and parades I participated in were very moving.