'It made me feel a great debt of gratitude': Northamptonshire Army Cadets visit Somme battlefields

The cadets pictured at the Thiepval Memorial
The cadets pictured at the Thiepval Memorial

Army Cadets from across Northamptonshire took part in a battlefield tour in France to learn more about the First World War.

The youngsters, who are part of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland Army Cadet Force, were on a three-day trip to the Somme part of a national campaign to mark 100 years since the Armistice that gave the cadets an insight into what life was like for soldiers in the trenches.

The cadets visited cemeteries as part of the tour

The cadets visited cemeteries as part of the tour

During the tour cadets visited battlefields and re-created trench systems to learn more about the conditions faced by soldiers, were given talks by historians about how the war developed, the technology used and the impact it had upon the 20th Century.

The tour then culminated in a parade at the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.

Cadet Gabriel Robertson, 14, said: "It made me feel a great debt of gratitude to those that died and also proud to stand before the memorial in remembrance after 100 years since the end of the Great War."

Cadet Antony Eames, aged 16, added: "It made me feel grateful and gave me a better understanding of life.

"It was a lot to take in and a really breathtaking experience."

In preparation for the battlefield tour, the cadets were asked to research their family’s involvement in the First World War.

Alexander Allford, 13, discovered that his great-great-grandfather, William James Francis Barber, was wounded at the Somme.

James was lying on the battlefield for over five hours before they found him. His diary in his pocket saved his life from the shrapnel.

His journal is now in Daventry museum on display for the World War One exhibition.

The battlefield tours were organised on a national level with more than 3,500 cadets from across the United Kingdom taking part.

Thiepval memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916.