CCFs up and down the country have found lots of different, and very special ways to mark Remembrance this year. One particularly interesting take on Operation Reflect, was undertaken by The King's School CCF, Grantham. After a successful project in 2015, they decided to continue with their Operation Reflection project, in conjunction with the Woodland Trust in autumn 2016.
Lt Col Ray Ogg met with the late Alec Coney Estates, and after discussion with Mrs Gillian Brown and son William Brown it was decided to plant some trees on their land at Glebe Farm, East Keal. William agreed the area and chose the new name that the tree planting area was going to be known as Auber's Ridge Wood.
Auber's Ridge was an area in France where the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment fought and sustained heavy losses, and where Sgt Charles Sharpe a soldier in the Lincolnshire Regiment won a Victoria Cross on the 9th May 1915.
Lt Col Ray then approached the Royal Anglian Regiment to see if they would like to plant trees as well as the cadets, which they agreed to. More research followed and it was discovered that the Royal Anglian Regiment had a picture of Charles Sharpe VC, and even more exciting for the cadets was the news that his Victoria Cross was held by South Kesteven District Council in Grantham.
Councillor Bob Adams, leader of the District Council, agreed not only to come and plant some trees, but also to bring the VC so it could be viewed.
Meanwhile, Capt TDF Humphries TD ret’d set about building a cairn, on which wreaths could be laid in the woods. Captain Tim, along with Lt Col Ray also sorted the 800+ trees into groups, and planned the areas to be planted. The trees planted included Silver Birch, Common Hazel, Common Hawthorn, Blackthorn, English Oak and Rowan, the latter of which will create a spectacular sight each autumn, with scarlet fruits, and orange, yellow and red leaves.
The first day of tree planting saw visiting Royal Anglian Soldiers, Capt Frankie Eaton, L/Cpl Hazelwood, Privates O'Connor, Brittany, Istiaq, Alvy and Smith planting trees, alongside Councillor Adams. The grandchildren of the landowners also planted an oak tree each, which they would see grow during their lifetime.
On the second day, the cadets of the Kings’ School CCF started planting trees around the cairn area. They were joined by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Mr Toby Dennis and Lincolnshire County Councillor Mr Raymond Phillips. A poppy was put on each plastic surround once the tree had been planted.
A wreath was laid by Mrs Gillian Brown the Landowner with the Lord Lieutenant, watched by CCF Cadets, Officers, and other guests. The school hope that Auber's Ridge Wood will create a haven for wildlife.
Finally the last tree was planted, just as the sun was beginning to go down. The group paused to reflect on this poignant moment.
“”At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.””
The project will continue, with further tree planting in 2017 and 2018 thereby commemorating all of the 1914-18 war and remembering the 100th year anniversary, in conjunction with the Woodland Trust.