The cadets pay homage to the fallen at the Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands. (Photo contributed)

History hits home for cadets on Vimy trip

Shuswap troop tours historic sites in Europe

Sixteen cadets from the Shuswap received an unforgettable history lesson during a recent trip overseas.

From May 4 to 13, the 16 young representatives of the 1787 Rocky Mountain Rangers Army Cadets accompanied by Captains Jessica Ellenor and Kirk Weale, civilian instructor Shaylee James and civilian volunteer Keith Will, were in Europe, visiting locations of historical importance.

Highlights of the trip for the cadets included a visit to Vimy Ridge and being given the honour of laying a wreath in the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate on May 8 – Victory in Europe Day.

“In the underground tunnels at Vimy Ridge, they turn off the lights and in the silence you could only imagine how the soldiers felt in the cold dark,” commented Sgt. Tanis Cote of the visit to Vimy.

“It was chilling knowing and realizing that the Vimy monument is there to honour people who’ve died and most were not much older than myself,” said Master Cpl. Shelby Merry.

Over the course of the 10 day trip, made possible with help from the community, the Salmon Arm Legion and WestJet, the cadets toured the Netherlands, where they visited the Anne Frank House, the Jewish Historical Museum, the Deportation Centre, the Portuguese Synagogue and the Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. While in the Vimy Region, the cadets paid a visit to Passchendaele, Essex Farm, the In Flanders Fields Museum, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial and the trenches. The spent a day visiting the Bény-Sur-Mer Canadian War Museum, Juno Beach and the Juno Beach Centre. The cadets’ final two days was spent visiting sites in Paris.

Each of the cadets came away from the trip with a more intimate understanding of the First and Second World Wars and the sacrifices made in them.

“I came away from this trip with the knowledge of how much the French, British and Canadian troops made sacrifices throughout the war so that we could live in peace,” said Master Cpl. Rodney Nichols.

“Walking through the graveyards made me realize just how many gave their lives, and that some were our age,” commented Nichols.

“We have learned in school about First World War and Second World War, but to actually be there, walking the same beaches, standing in the same trenches and reading their headstones at cemeteries puts it into a whole new perspective,” said Master Cpl. Shelby Merry.

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