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Army Cadet Force: Desford Detachment, B Sqn RL, Leicester

Desford Army Cadets listening to presentation by WMT's Learning Officer © War Memorials Trust, 2018
Desford Army Cadets looking looking at images of war memorial features and symbols © War Memorials Trust, 2018
Desford Army Cadets and Detachment Commander during group activity © War Memorials Trust, 2018
  • County name: Leicestershire
  • Group/School name: Army Cadet Force: Desford Detachment
  • Age group: 11+
  • Group type: Cadets

In February 2018, the Trust received a learning visit enquiry from the Commander of the Desford Detachment of the Army Cadet Force.  The Cadets were due to embark on a Cadet in the Community project in late spring/early summer which would involve looking at the history of some of the war memorials in their local and then researching the names listed.  War Memorials Trust’s Learning Officer was asked to give the Cadets an overview of war memorials so that they had a good understanding of war memorial heritage before beginning their project.

WMT’s Learning Officer attended a Cadet meeting at the beginning of May 2018 and delivered a session which gave a broad understanding of what war memorials are.  Cadets were asked to consider what they thought a war memorial was and then given images which they were asked to look at and allow to influence their discussions.  The definitions they came up with were very eloquent and focused on the fact that war memorials can take a variety of forms.  Photographs of war memorials in the local area were then shown to the Cadets to reaffirm the variety of war memorials that exist.

The Cadets then learnt that there are 100,000 war memorials around the UK many of which had decisions made about them by a local war memorial committee and were funded by public subscription.  Using their own thoughts and also inscriptions taken from some First World War memorials the Cadets were asked to consider why nearly two thirds of the war memorials in the UK were created in the wake of World War I.   This discussion raised some interesting questions and points around where those who are commemorated may have been buried.

Photographs of memorials with a variety of symbols and features, including dates and inscriptions were then shared with the Cadets to enable them to identify those which are commonly used in war memorials designs and also suggest why this is the case.  The reason behind why some of the memorials for the First World War have the dates 1914-1918 while others have 1914-1918 was also discussed.  The hope is that the Cadets will be able to identify some of the features and symbols discussed when they visit war memorials in their local area.

Following a short NAAFI break the Cadets looked at the potential problems facing war memorials including vandalism, theft, aging and weathering.  A case study of a local war memorial damaged by a falling tree in a storm was used to highlight the damage which can be caused.  This also provided the opportunity to hightlight War Memorials Online and the benefit of carrying out condition surveys.  The session concluded with an activity where the Cadets chose how to record the information they had learnt so that they could refer to it as the project continued.  Many chose to note down the different symbols and features as well as the different types of war memorials.

The evening proved to be a very enjoyable one for all involved and was described as “excellent” by the Detachment Commander.  The Cadets engaged well with the information and activities and now have a good understanding of war memorials as they start to research those in their local area.  They are planning to visit the memorial to the Leicestershire Yeomanry in Bradgate Park, Newton Linford in the coming weeks and also work with the local council to find out more about war memorials within the village.

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