Year 9 Student’s Amazing Trip of Remembrance

Over remembrance weekend, Year 9 student, Owen Richardson, took part in a trip of a lifetime with the Scarborough Sea Cadets, of which he is a proud member. Their amazing 4-day trip was summed up as follows: “Honestly and simply, the trip has been truly amazing, breath-taking, humbling, proud, informative, fun, thoughtful and emotive all at the same time.

We have travelled from Scarborough via Hull, Zeebrugge, Bruges, Ypres to Geel and back again, but it’s been worth every kilometre.

We met our hosts and new friends of the Koninklijk Marine Kaddetenkorps Geel, their Commanding Officer Dirk Grootaers, Executive and Liaison Officer Tim Buyle along with their outstanding team of volunteers, cadets and supporters who treated us with overwhelming hospitality.

To quote one cadet “Sir, they’re treating us like royalty!!” And they did.

We learnt Marine Kaddetenkorps Drill, had a river cruise on their patrol boat “Victory”. Swapped cadet and cultural differences, played basketball ball, table tennis quite competitively and have eaten too much food but more importantly made new friends.

We paid our respects at Tyne Cot and Geel War Cemetery’s, where over 4000 Commonwealth soldiers from the First and Second World Wars are remembered and many of them who are unidentified. We laid our wreath in Geel where many Green Howard’s are buried. We each had moments of personal reflection and witnessed a 9 year old Belgium Junior Cadet individually salute 300 plus headstones, his personal way of showing his respect and gratitude which was very touching.

Our pilgrimage to the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres was as meaningful as expected. We read the panels of names, after names, after names dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed and whose graves are unknown truly impacted on our visit.

Attending the parade in Geel as the guests of honour and taking part in their Ceremony of the Flowers was an immensely proud moment. We felt the over-riding wave of emotion from the locals, who thanked us for attending and offered nothing but praise to the cadets on their turnout and Drill. What is clear to see is the gratitude the Belgian citizens showed for the people of the UK that never returned home from both wars and how thankful they are for their way of life because of this, it was extremely humbling.

This trip was arranged by the Belgian Marine Kaddetenkorps to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1. It was also to start a relationship with the Sea Cadet Corps of the United Kingdom for future exchanges. We were extremely honoured and thankful to be chosen.

This was its simple aim, however it achieved more than this. It opened a door to the past for all the cadets on this special weekend to show our appreciation and respect for those not much older than our cadets who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms today. It also opened a door to the future, as friendships were forged to span the language and distance barrier on one common course; Sea Cadets.

We would like to thank everyone one who made our stay so memorable and we would like thank our cadets for being true ambassadors of the Sea Cadets, Eastern Area, TS Scarborough and the town of Scarborough. It is a time we will carry with us and remember forever”.