Newtownabbey teenagers Lauren Hunter and Thomas Hogg have been given an insight into World War 1 in the year of its centenary.
History was brought to life for the two young members of 1919 Newtownabbey Air Training Corps Squadron (ATC) during a five-day tour of the battlefields, graveyards and memorials of Belgium and France.
They joined cadets and adult volunteers from across Northern Ireland on a unique journey into the past to pay their respects and find out more about a conflict which shaped the modern world.
‘Exercise Mons 100’ started at the sites where the first and last contact between the British and German armies occurred and took in the Somme area with its particular resonance for the Northern Irish Cadets, given the high toll which the Battle of the Somme took on the lives of Ulstermen 100 years ago.
The young people visited many of the battlefields they had learned about in history lessons and paid respects at cemeteries and memorials which commemorate the losses.
They themselves also became part of the ongoing memorial at the world famous Menin Gate. In front of 1,200 hushed onlookers, the uniformed cadets and their adult instructors paraded and had the honour of being part of a ceremony which is conducted at 8pm every night of every year, with a representative from each cadet unit, the ACF, ATC, CCF and SCC forming the wreath-laying party.