On Friday 11th October, 4 staff and 40 year 9 pupils set off for the battlefields of World War One. We travelled to Folkestone for the Euro Shuttle to Calais and arrived at our hotel in Belgium in time for a delicious evening meal.
Up bright and early on Saturday, we travelled into Ypres to collect a guide. For three hours, she took us to various sites linked with World War One in and around Ypres, including Tyne Cot Cemetery and Essex farm dressing station where John McCrae wrote his famous poem, ‘In Flanders Field’. We had taken two poppy wreaths with us and pupils thought it would be nice to lay one of the wreaths at Langemarck German Cemetery. Everyone thought carefully about the message we would leave with the wreath then, when we decided, we wrote it and laid the wreath near the mass grave.
The afternoon was spent in a museum in Ypres followed by time to shop for chocolate. Later in the evening, Zak Allen and Emma Hartley took part in the Menin Gate Last Post Ceremony. Dressed smartly in their school uniforms, they laid the other poppy wreath in the arches of the Menin Gate at their appointed time during this very moving ceremony. They were extremely calm and professional; a credit to the school.
On Sunday, we travelled into France to visit various sites around the Somme region, including the frontline trenches at Beaumont Hamel and the huge memorial to the missing at Thiepval. On our way back to the Euro Shuttle, we stopped at Vimy Ridge to see more trenches and the monument to the young men of Canada who lost their lives capturing this ridge.
It was an immensely enjoyable and memorable trip. Here are a few comments:
“Seeing the battlefields was an extraordinary experience. Nothing can describe how thought-provoking it was. The white headstones are so neatly kept”. Laura Slominski
“The Tyne Cot Cemetery took my breath away with just how big it was and how many graves there were”. Chloe Dace
“On Sunday we went to some trenches. As it was raining, you could really get a feel of how it would have been like in the war…” Ewan White
“The Menin Gate ceremony was beautiful… everyone was silent, you could have heard a pin drop despite 1000 people being there…” Becky Tugwell
“We stopped at a place where sheep blow up – it was so cool!” Hollie Boyd-Leslie at Beaumont Hamel
“It was really moving going to see the people who died fighting for us”. Rosie Pike
“We went to see some trenches… the conditions there would have been awful if you had to stay there for any amount of time”. Rowan Hill