King’s Cadets Take Part in Two Ceremonies in Ypres
Last week five CCF cadets and two members of staff headed to Flanders to take part in two moving ceremonies in Ypres.
The background to the trip was a decision by the King’s College alumni association, the Old Aluredian (OA) Club, to install, in the Anglican Church in Ypres, St George’s, a memorial plaque to those OAs who died in WW1. Colonel Gerry Wells-Cole OBE, who was once a parent at King’s and who remains closely involved with the school, had noticed that, amongst the dozens of UK schools who had plaques in St George’s, King’s College was sadly missing. The OA Club was delighted to sponsor the memorial.
The cadets visited a number of First and Second World War sites, including Dunkirk Beach, Tyne Cot and Langemark Cemeteries, and the In Flanders’ Fields Museum in Ypres, under the expert guidance of our Head of History, Jamie Bough, and our second in charge of the CCF Army Section, Steve Shaw. They then took part in the very moving ritual of the Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres on the evening of Monday 21 October. Carved into the stone of the Menin Gate are the names of 54,000 Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were never found or identified. After the playing of the Last Post the King’s cadets marched in uniform, and in front of a large crowd, to the bottom of the memorial steps.Royal Marine Cadet Oliver Biggs climbed the steps to lay the wreath. Afterwards the cadets attracted a large crowd of admirers, who insisted on taking selfies with the young uniformed men.
The service of dedication for the new plaque took place the following day in St George’s Church. Our Chaplain, Father Mark, had written a simple but moving liturgy. The cadets, once more in uniform, took centre stage. Cadet Dan Potter gave a moving reading from St John’s Gospel, Father Mark sprinkled the plaque with holy water and Laurence Underhill OA laid a wreath beneath it.
Amongst those present at the service were the Headmaster and Mrs Biggs; Mr Lawrence Underhill OA, Vice-chairman of the OA Committee and his wife Verity; Colonel and Mrs Wells-Cole and members of their family, including Thomas Boyd, a current pupil at King’s; Mr Ian Barrie OA and his wife Jane; the College Organist, Mr Young; Mrs Bough; Mr Shaw; and, very excitingly, a D-Day veteran, Mr Fred Miller, who was visiting Flanders, accompanied by his wife Joan, for the first time since 1945. Mr Miller recently celebrated his 98th birthday.
After the very moving service, the cadets visited the Atlantic Wall defences at Ostend, before returning to the UK the following day.
The inscription on the plaque now in the church of St George’s, Ypres, reads
In proud and grateful memory of all those Old Aluredians who gave their lives for their country and for freedom in the Great War.
We will remember them.
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