Woking Scouts in Ypres

30 January 2019

On November 9th, Woking District disembarked across the channel with 72 Scouts and 43 leaders, ready for a packed remembrance weekend in Ypres, Belgium.

Ypres played a significant part in history. Here British Soldiers fought in World War One. After a 3hr journey, the Scouts arrived at De Karmel, our accommodation for the weekend, situated just outside Brugge. After a good night’s sleep (for most!) and a hearty breakfast, we visited the Yorkshire Trench on Saturday. The Scouts got to experience the tight quarters and how cramped and challenging it would have been. We were also able to invest a Horsell Scout, something I’m sure will stay with him forever!

Our next stop was Ferme-Olivier Cemetery were we held a small service to commemorate one of the first Scouts, Mark Noble, who was at the first Brownsea Island Camp in 1908 aged 11, with Baden Powell, and was then killed in action at the age of 20. For lunch we headed to a Belgian Scout campsite for a traditional Belgian stew. We also had the chance to visit either Passchendaele Museum or Flandersfield Museum. The Scouts learnt more about the conditions the soldiers lived in, the uniform and weaponry and the British Army’s journey through Belgium. We also visited Tyne Cot Cemetery, where the scale of sacrifice given for us amazed us all. We went round and laid poppies for specific Woking-born service men.

Our last stop for the evening was the Last Post Service inside Menin Gate. It was an emotional but spectacular service complete with standard bearers and marching bands. Our standard bearers were fortunate enough to parade through Menin gate as part of the service. Ian Cartwright, ADC Scouts and Cameron, Gladstone Scouts, were our wreath bearers. A truly memorable evening. On Armistice Day we headed back to Menin Gate to watch the Poppy Parade. We weren’t sure what view we would have, but were determined to do Woking Scouts proud. We were all shocked and privileged to parade with Service men and women from around the World through Ypres centre and to Menin Gate.

It is fair to say this was a trip of a lifetime for our Scouts. They may not fully understand the significance now, but down the line, they will remember.

Article by Lucy Longley (1st Horsell Cubs)