Army Cadets - WW I Battlefields Tour to Belgium and France

The past came powerfully and poignantly to life for Grosvenor pupil Robert Orr, Year Thirteen, recently as he made a pilgrimage to the World War I battlefields of Belgium and France.

A hundred years after the guns fell silent, Robert, a Cadet Sergeant with the school's Cadet Detachment, joined Cadets from across Northern Ireland to learn about the unprecedented loss of life in 'the war to end all wars'. Accompanied by expert guides, the Cadets toured museums and cemeteries and explored the trench and tunnel systems where so many fought and died, discovering that many of those who sacrificed their lives were themselves little more than teenagers.

During the tour Robert made a point of laying a cross of remembrance on a family grave - that of his Great Great Great Uncle John Orr, who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces' infantry before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. Sadly, John did not survive the war and is buried at Beacon cemetery.

It was an emotional and, occasionally, overwhelming experience for all of the young visitors, as well as an opportunity to deepen their understanding, as Colonel David McCleery OBE from Army Cadet Force Association Northern Ireland explains: "Our Cadets learn about World War 1 at school, but nothing quite prepares you for the impact of visiting the region. Our young people were deeply moved by everything they saw and learned during their visit and, in particular, none of us will ever forget the sad sight of landscapes filled with row-upon-row of carefully-tended military graves. ….The Cadet movement is well known for providing its members with fun-filled outdoor adventure, sociability and sport, but there is also a more serious side to what we do, as this tour demonstrates.  The Battlefield Tour was an enriching and maturing experience for our Cadets and I believe they have returned with memories which will stay with them for ever."

Well done to GGS pupil Robert on taking the time to participate in such a worthwhile trip – hopefully we will hear about many more valuable experiences that he enjoys with the Cadets in the near future. 

Grosvenor pupil Robert Orr lays a cross of remembrance at the grave of his Great Great Great Uncle John Orr, who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces' infantry before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps during 'The Great War', during his recent tour of Belgium and France's World War One battlefields.