Battlefields Trip 2013
On the 9th November 2013, 29 pupils travelled with Mr Burrows, Mrs Hudson and Mrs Parry to Belgium and France to visit the battlefields of World War One.
We arrived at school at 4.00am on Saturday morning, and then travelled to Belgium by coach. Our first stop was at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium; the sheer number of graves shocked us all. We then visited the Essex Farm Cemetery where the youngest known soldier, who died at 15 years of age, is buried. In the evening we visited the Menin Gate, a huge memorial etched with the thousands of names of missing soldiers, where we watched the Last Post ritual being performed. This happens every evening at 8 o’clock, and is a memorial to the fallen.
On Sunday, we explored a house in the middle of a nearby town, which is now a museum, where soldiers would’ve rested from the war. After this we went to the Tyne Cote cemetery, which was astonishingly large. Many of us found graves with our families names on them, and we saw the huge wall at the back of the graveyard which had on it the names of the missing that couldn’t fit onto the enormous structure of the Menin Gate. After this we went to Ypres, where we got a chance to go chocolate shopping and visit a museum dedicated to the events of the war and the contribution of the town of Ypres in the fighting. In the evening we had a chance to relax; we went bowling in the hostel we were staying in!
On the morning of the final day, we visited a German graveyard in Belgium which was home to a mass grave. This was very upsetting, as there were over 25,000 German soldiers who had given their lives fighting for what they thought was right, but because they were fighting on the “wrong” side, they were buried in a huge pit in the ground. We then took part in the remembrance ceremony at the Thiepval Memorial, where we marched with the band and represented the school by singing in as the school choir. We were then invited to sing again at a gathering to commemorate the War after the Thiepval ceremony. After this slight detour, we went to a reconstruction of a real-life trench, where we managed to experience, first-hand, what the horror of the trenches was really like. This sight was built on a real battleground, and was placed next to gargantuan French graveyard. We then drove back to Calais for our evening meal before catching the train back to England.
I found the trip very moving, and informative as I could really see the destruction that the War caused to both the land and the population, and the realised the horrendous sacrifice that so many men gave through the endless rows of white gravestones.
Above: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.