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You become really close to the people you went with. Doing it with cadets ... made it all the better," says Lucas Hann of his recent trip to Europe.
You become really close to the people you went with. Doing it with cadets ... made it all the better,

Lucas Hann of Corner Brook describes his recent three-week tour of battlefields and memorials in Europe as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”  

It was an opportunity that, he said, was made possible thanks to his involvement in the Army cadets. Lucas is a sergeant with 2590 Gallipoli Royal Canadian Army Cadet (RCAC) Corps.

The 16-year-old was among 30 cadets from across the country – and the only one from this province – to participate in the RCAC Voyage in History tour.

Lucas left this province on July 8. His first stop was in Ottawa where the cadets visited the National War Museum and Library and Archives Canada.

The cadets also visited the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

Each cadet was provided with the name of a First World War soldier. They researched and wrote about the soldier and would later do a presentation on their findings.

Lucas’s soldier was Pte. Leonard Hynes who grew up in Codroy, Newfoundland. His research indicates that Hynes was the son of Margaret and Richard Hynes. The young soldier had two brothers, Richard and John.

Lucas’s research also noted that Hynes enlisted in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in St. Johns on July 7, 1918. He died of influenza on Oct. 8, 1918 on a ship at sea while on his way to battle. He was 23 years old.

“He didn’t have a known grave. He is commemorated on the plaque under the caribou in Beaumont-Hamel Memorial Park. Once we got to Beaumont-Hamel, I presented my soldier,” Lucas said on giving his presentation which included not only a biography on Hynes but a creative piece that each cadet wrote about their soldier.

“I put myself in the shoes of his brother (John) and wrote a letter to (Pte. Hynes) after the soldier had died.”

The cadets also visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands and spent time in the Belgian city of Bruges.

“We spent a few days in Belgium but we spent most of our time in France. We went to Beaumont-Hamel, Dieppe, Juno Beach and a few other places.”

The cadets spent the last couple of days of their tour in Paris where they watched a spectacular light show at the Eiffel Tower.

Lucas returned home on July 28.

From swimming at Juno Beach to parading in an American cemetery to visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Lucas said the overall experience was a great one.

“You become really close to the people you went with. Doing it with cadets ... made it all the better,” he said.

The Cadet program is one of the largest federally-sponsored youth programs in Canada. Youth between the ages of 12-18 can join Army, Navy or Sea Cadets.

Lucas said he is grateful for the opportunity to take part in the trip. When it comes to the cadet movement, he said, he’s learned a great deal during his years as a cadet.

“I’ve come out of my shell a lot. It brings you closer to people. It gives you more discipline. It’s a good way to stay in shape and be more involved in the community.”

This is the creative writing component of Lucas’s research project. Lucas wrote the letter from the perspective of Private Leonard Hynes’s brother, John, following Private Hynes’s death.

Dear Leonard,

Today we had our own funeral for you. I did not want to believe it was true until today, that you, my baby brother, were truly gone. There was no body. We were told you had been laid to rest at sea. All that remained was your watch. I know things have not been great since father passed last year. For you, for mom, for the whole family. Maybe that is what drove you to enlist. Now, we will never know. But, what I do know, what we all know, is that even though you may have been the youngest in the family, you were most definitely the bravest. Although you had not seen much action, and died of illness not of war, you still showed your courage and nobility by signing up to fight for what is right, to fight for us, the people at home. I know, as brothers, we may not have always seen eye-to-eye but you I am proud, no honoured, to call my baby brother.

Lest we Forget.

Love, John

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