Fort cadet tours WWI battlefields

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An Army cadet from Fort William recently returned from a tour of battlefields to honour the fallen of the First World War.

Cadet Lance Corporal Natasha Gregor, 16, from Fort William Detachment, 1st Battalion, Highlanders, visited the battlefields, memorials and cemeteries at Ypres and Vimy Ridge in Belgium and France.

The three-day tour saw Natasha learn about the various conflicts fought in the area, from the Battles of Ypres – fought across five different engagements between 1914-18 – to the Battle of Messines Ridge and the various advances of warfare through the war, from the start of trench warfare and the underground war that followed using tunnelling and mines, to the later involvement of tanks and planes.

The cadets were also challenged on the various misconceptions of the war, such as the ‘lions led by donkeys’ debate and that the lines were stationary.

Cadets and adults from 1 Highlanders ACF at the Menin Gate. NO F32 Natasha Gregor 01
Cadets and adults from 1 Highlanders ACF at the Menin Gate.
NO F32 Natasha Gregor 01

On the Saturday evening, the cadets paraded at the Menin Gate to take part in the Last Post ceremony.

After the ceremony Natasha commented: ‘It was a huge honour to be part of the ceremony – it will stay with me forever.’

The final day of the tour saw the cadets make the trip into France to learn about the Canadian effort during the war and their part in the Arras Offensive during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, with a visit to the Canadian National Memorial, which towers the landscape and can be seen from more than 40 miles away.

Twenty eight members of the battalion took part in the tour, which was paid for through fundraising efforts by the cadets, grants and kind donations from Highland businesses including Tulloch Homes, The Robertson Group, SGL Carbon and Sheriffmill Motors.