Young people from Carrickfergus have joined in World War One centenary commemorations with a trip to Belgium and France.
The pilgrimage, planned and organised by Colonel David McCleery OBE, Chairman of the Army Cadet Force Northern Ireland Association, brought together teenagers from the Army Cadet Force, Combined Cadet Force, Sea Cadet Corps and Air Training Corps for a battlefield tour which brought school history lessons to life in the most poignant manner possible.
The Cadets’ first understanding of the vast scale of loss came with a visit to St Symphorien Cemetery. The serried ranks of the fallen were a moving sight and set the tone for a visit to Ypres to see the daily ceremony at the Menin Gate.
The visit to the Somme had particular resonance for the Cadets, given the high toll which the Battle of the Somme took on the lives of Ulstermen one hundred years ago.
Their busy itinerary also included the area of the Battle of Messines where the 12th Irish Division and the 36th Ulster Division fought side by side for the first time; the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Tyne Cot, the largest British military cemetery in the world and Langemark German Cemetery, where a mass grave for 24,000 highlighted the tragic losses of the German nation.