Day 7 – Saturday, 18 March 2017
This morning we woke up at 5:30 to be able to head to Beaumont-Hamel Memorial and the Vimy Memorial. We spent three hours at Beaumont-Hamel and the afternoon at Vimy Ridge. We then traveled to Gent, Belgium to our new accommodation. We unpacked the coach, walked a few blocks with our luggage, found our hostel and had our rooms assigned. We went to dinner in the middle of Gent at McDonalds!
This whole day I couldn’t get over the fact that life is a drama, and how humanity depends on the entertainment of drama to entertain themselves, “boyfriends” and “girlfriends” at a young age is all about the drama it costs. And now popularity is based on how you can make people feel using dramatic events. An example of this that made me think about this is how thousands of Canadians joined the army expecting to “explore Europe on an adventure” and come back a hero and have dramatic stories to tell . But once they came to the realization of what they signed up for the popular “thing to do” versus the fighting and risking their lives the drama stopped…other than the drama caused by Hitler.
Some things I just don’t get.
Cadet FCpl Kunyckyj
Today we went to the Beaumont-Hamel Memorial and we were faced with the cold, rain and high winds. Is this what the soldiers faced? I wonder. We did get to see the famous Newfoundland caribou upon the mountain, many cemeteries and trenches, and many craters. We then went to Vimy Ridge where we got a very thorough tour of a 150 metre long underground bunker. We got to explore the area and see many trenches and the craters scattered across the whole battlefield. We went to the Vimy Memorial its self where there was a promotion ceremony for some Cadets. I found the name of my Mom’s friend’s grandmothers brother on the wall of the Vimy Memorial, listing him as missing presumed dead. I took a picture of it to bring home and give them. We also took some group pictures at the Vimy Memorial. We then headed for Gent, Belgium where we settled in an amazing hostel, then grabbed dinner at McDonalds before going back for bed.
Cadet FCpl Aman
After an evening of preparing our uniforms and our rooms, this mornings wake up time was 5:15 am! After breakfast and organizing our things we hopped on the bus and make our way to our first destination. The bus drive was quiet and there weren’t many of us awake so make much noise anyways. When we finally arrived at our first venue it was around 9:15. Beaumont-Hamel is were the battle of the Somme took place. An unforgettable experience! From the inclement weather ruined all the girls gelled hair that we worked so hard to achieve that morning to the huge craters in the ground, there was no one not sensing the moment we were witnessing. We learned about the valour of the Newfoundlanders, the courage of 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Gardiner, and interesting facts about the caribou monument.
On our ride to the next location we picked up some lunch and arrived at the Vimy Memorial. From the moment we stepped off the bus there was a certain magic about this place. I learned about trenches, how many were built, underground tunnels and the history behind the site. Our final event at the Vimy Memorial was and unexpected and unforgettable experience for all. After a march to the Vimy Memorial, medals were award and Cadets such as myself were promoted. Being a recipient of this event was a true hour and something I know that I will never forget.
Cadet FCpl Wei
Every little girl romanticizes the idea of waking up in a castle, especially one in France. It was something I thought about while gelling my hair and putting on my DEU’s for the day ahead.
An early start at 5:00 can make a girl feel like a little less than a princess, however the nap I had on the ride to Beaumont-Hamel certainly did!
We arrive at the Somme and learned about WW1 and French warfare strategies and downfalls. I am also grateful that I can enjoy this trip because of all the brave Newfoundlanders and Canadians who fought so fiercely in battle. It was raining, therefore muddy, similar to the conditions of the battle. We learned in grade 10 history class about how equipment, the organization of command and communications failed, leading to the massacre that was to come. On the flip side of the failure of the Somme is how it supported the success of Vimy since there was so much to learn from these mistakes. Organizations and communications vastly improved as we could tell just by looking at the construction of the trenches and the underground tunnels. Seeing all this really brought what we learned in history class to life.
The Vimy Ridge monument is another location we stopped at and it is beautiful representation of victory and the battle that occurred. Service awards and promotions were made here and I am very happy for all of my friends who received the recognition they deserved. After taking a ton of pictures at the memorial we loaded the bus and departed for Belgium.
What I currently looking forward to is the buying and eating of Belgium waffles and chocolate!
Cadet FSgt Molka
In my opinion, today was one of the best days yet! This morning we got up early and travelled for three hours to get to Beaumont-Hamel. After touring the battlefield and visiting the onsite cemeteries, we set off for Vimy Ridge. Vimy Ridge was by far one of the most interesting places we have visited on the trip. After the march up to the monument the Officers awarded medals and promotions.
Cadet Cpl Cerajewski
Today was an extraordinary day. We went to two amazing monuments.
But first, we woke up in a castle! We woke up and got ready in our uniforms,, and then got ready to start our travels. On the way to our new accommodations we stopped at two different memorial sties. The first was Beaumont-Hamel, where, while the weather was rainy, windy and cold and foggy, we learned all about the soldiers from Newfoundland in the First World War. We walked through their trenches, through ‘No Man’s Land’, saw the “Danger Tree”, saw the caribou monument and the cemetery.
The second place we visited was Vimy Ridge, a amazingly touching monument, which represents the triumphs of the battle of Vimy Ridge. We saw the figure of Canada as she mourns over the battlefield. We also saw the saw and walked through the bunkers of both the Newfoundlanders (Canadians) and those of the Germans.
An added surprise was that some Cadets were promoted, and others awarded Cadet Long Service Medals during a ceremony at the Vimy Memorial.
All in all, it was a day that displayed the courage of Canadian soldiers during the First World War.
Cadet FCpl Quinn
Day 7 – Saturday, March 18, 2017
Today I got the fantastic opportunity to go to Beaumont-Hamel. It was an early morning but after getting there it was worth it. Since I was part of the second group to go to the tour, I got the chance to be alone and explore the museum a bit and learned some history by myself before the tour began. It was interesting to learn about what happened in the devastating battle in which over 80% of the Newfoundland Regiment was destroyed, and it was one of the bloodiest battles for the British armies. When we finally went for the tour and I got a chance to learn about it more, like how the battle of the Somme was there so that the French could have a bit of relief and engage in the battle of Verdun. We also learned about why it had failed as they used ‘old’ military tactics versus ‘modern’ tactics. We also go a chance to go to the trenches that were made by the Canadian soldiers and it was so fascinating to see how it was made, and the fact that they actually fought battles from these trenches. For me personally, I cannot even imagine being in that situation and making it in which people had to stay in them for two weeks without basic things we have like hot meals and bathrooms, and other stuff. We also learned about the role of a runner and how they had a life expectancy of six days. I mean its crazy! I can’t imagine doing a job this dangerous. Communication is so important and yet it is so dangerous that these runners literally had to walk onto the battlefield just to deliver information in which they could be killed for. We also got a chance to seethe names of all the solders who were never found, and it was huge. So many countless people lost their lives and many of them were family.
After the tour was done, we got a chance to walk around the groves and it was striking to see the amount of soldiers who were buried. There was also a tree in the middle of the battlefield known as the “Danger Tree”, and it was the only thing left standing at the end of the battle My friend and I were walking around the memorial and we had spoke about how hard life must have been as a soldier. We both couldn’t believe how they built these trenches and how they were able to fight in them for almost two weeks. The amount of work and danger that these soldiers had done and survived is incredible and we have so much to be thankful to them for.
Today, I also got a chance to say a poem by Eric Boggle called “No Man’s Land”, and it literally crushed me at the end of the memorial. Me and some of the other Cadets got a chance to say it and when I heard them say it, just a flow of grief came over me. I mean, its different from hearing the song because it didn’t mean much to me when I first heard it, but at the end of the memorial I’m just standing at the place where hundreds of people killed other people I care about. I mean, it just him me and after hearing them say their lines I was so shocked that I could even say my part properly because of how sad it was. Its just incredible seeing where the soldiers fought and how many of them didn’t give up until the bitter end.
After Beaumont-Hamel we got on the bus and went to the Vimy Memorial and it was a place where I’ve wanted to go for a long time, and now I have the opportunity to go. It was an experience in which I left in awe. We got split up in groups and we got a chance to go into the underground tunnels, which was so cool. We learned about how life was in the tunnels and it was fascinating. We also got to see, and walk, in the trenches and I was once again in awe! It still amazing me how the young soldiers could make something like that, especially how they found out that they had to make the trenches in a specific pattern so that it could potentially do less damage than it would have if the trench was straight.
It was cool how we got the chance to see the Canadian and German trenches, and learning about what they had to deal with is something that I’ll never forget. It must have been so hard to make sure that the plan was perfect and the Canadians did it!
After that, we went to the Vimy Memorial and I was again in awe! That was one of the things I’ve wanted to see all of my life and it finally happened. It’s a place that I’ll never forget. Many Cadets got promoted and many Cadets received Cadet Service Medals (for four and five years of Cadet service). We had a good time there and it really shows how for Canada has become the country that it is as this is the battle when Canadians start becoming nationalistic about their nation, and something that I will never forget.
After this we’re travelling to Belgium to go to our new place to stay. Belgium seems like a beautiful place and I can’t wait until I get a chance to explore it more.
Today is a day that I will never forget! These memorials have made me feel emotions that I’ve never had before and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be here. This day was quite a busy one in which we had an early morning, but in all honesty it was worth it. I’ve gotten a chance to now see places that I’ve learned about in school with my very own eyes and its still hard to believe that I’m actually getting a chance to come here and its been a fantastic day!
Cadet WO2 Patel, D.