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Young recruits discover realities of war in France

Hundreds of Junior Soldiers (JS) from Harrogate’s Army Foundation College (AFC) deployed on Exercise Lion’s Spirit in November to learn about the Allied liberation of Normandy during WWII.

The educational package, which saw lessons delivered by professional tour guides and the permanent staff from AFC, coincided with the Remembrance period.

This offered the 130 JS of Cambrai Company’s 10 Platoon the chance to attend a poignant ceremony of reflection at Merville Battery, where many British paratroopers and, later, Commandos lost their lives during fierce fighting in the summer of 1944.

The teenage recruits also visited famous battlegrounds such as Omaha and Juno Beaches, from which American, British, and Canadian soldiers launched the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control.

AFC staff conduct two exercises each year in the Normandy region, so that the up to 1,200 JS under training at any one time can experience it.

It is also a valuable trip for the permanent staff, many of whom graduated from AFC years ago, as they get a better understanding of the heroics of their forebears.

Padre Huw Evans was responsible for conducting the services during Exercise Lion’s Spirit, but the ceremonies were open to all faiths.

Nearing completion of their training at AFC, the JS of Cambrai Company will have covered more advanced rifle training, including a series of ranges to develop their marksmanship and confidence.