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Year 10 Battlefields Trip

 

I was privileged to attend our annual Year 10 trip to the battlefields in Belgium and France over the half term break. It was no ordinary school trip. We were honoured to have our own archaeologist accompany us, Mr Martin Brown. Martin has been involved in uncovering some of the real human stories of remains which are still being found, and gave us a real insight into the tragedies and lives of people caught up in the First World War.

- Helen Key, Head Teacher

 

Personal account of Battlefileds visit from Like Wilder (Year 10): 

The battlefields trip was an exciting opportunity to explore the history of WW1 through our own eyes. It gave us the opportunity to explore the battlegrounds of WW1, the graves of the soldiers and the important memorials. With the brilliant guide Martin explaining in detail the events of each battle,we listened to the stories of where the callous conflict happened. It was, without a doubt, worth the two phenomenal days.

Memorials we visited included the Lissjenthoek Cemetery, Ploegstreet Memorial, UEFA Memorial, Messine Ridge, Bayernwald Trenches, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Serre Road Cemetery, Theipval and Poizieres.

Lissjenthoek Cemetery

At this, the second largest war cemetery, Jack Simmonds and Chance Stoner read us very moving newspaper articles about two nurses (one being Neille Spindler, who’s grave we visited).

Ploegstreet Memorial

The first memorial with unidentified men that we saw. The two statues of lions represented war and peace and give a genuine symbolic feeling of despair and sorrow.

UEFA Memorial

Here we spoke about the famous Christmas truce and how the Germans and British exchanged gifts. There was cross with lots of footballs in a little box representing the apparent football match.

Messine Ridge

This German strongpoint was where Hitler and Churchill fought.

Bayernwald Trenches

Here, we explored a re-creation of a German trench and discussed the difficulties of trench warfare.

Tyne Cot Cemetery

The largest war cemetery in the world was phenomenal with 11,000 graves and 34,000 names on the walls. It was a very moving experience to stand and see just how many graves were there.

Ypres

The famous town of Ypres was just a pool of rubble and ruins as the British and Germans fought over this strong point but now it is fully reconstructed.

Menin Gate

This massive gate has a memorial every day at 20:00 to celebrate the bravery of each and every man. Martin had asked Ellen Hill, Lucy Dobson and I (Luke Wilder) to place a wreath from all at Chailey to commemorate the loss (in front of a tremendous crowd).

Albert Basilica

With a statue of Madonna in gold at the top, this important church played a role in boosting the moral of soldiers while being a crucial sniper point. Legend has it that whichever side loses it’s control of this church will lose the war and when the Germans lost control of it due British bombing, legend proved true.

Lochnagar

This beautiful area with the rolling hills and beautiful landscape had the remains of a mine explosion.

Serre Road Cemetery

We heard more on men lost and how archaeologists (including Martin) identify skeletons and link them to soldiers.

Sunken Road

Shown in the 1916 film Battle of the Somme, we saw the forests and hills in a film which brought the true horror into perspective. Using roleplay, we recreated a scene in the film. Then we entered the field and discussed what happened on the first day of Battle.

Thiepval

The massive memorial was just incredible. With the names of 56,000 from the Somme we explored this vast graveyard and had plenty of time to reminisce

Poizieres

Here we found Charlotte Caughley’s great, great, grandfather, J A Cribbs who died at the end of the war.

 

A genuinely unforgettable trip that was undeniably moving.

‘They shall not grow old’

 

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