Return from the Battlefields
A group of year 9 students experience the front line of WWI
On Friday, 9 June 36 Year 9 History students set off on the annual History trip where we visit the World War One Battlefields of France and Belgium and although it was an early start, their enthusiasm made up for the damp weather! While we were there we visited many different sites including the Commonwealth Cemeteries such as Theipval, Tyne Cott and the Devonshire cemetery. We also had the opportunity to visit the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge and take part in the Menin Gate ceremony. The staff are incredibly proud of our students who showed exemplary behaviour and respect throughout; we were even stopped in the street to be complemented on their behaviour by a member of the public during the Menin Gate Ceremony.
Our trip by Daniel Moore and Harvey Stevenson:
Between the 9th and the 11th of June, 36 Year 9 students had the opportunity to visit many WW1 sites and cemeteries in France and Belgium, to gain a greater understanding of the events and the people it affected.
In the early hours of the morning the coach full of tired yet excited students began the 7 hour trip to Dover port, to take a ferry to the port of Calais, before a journey through Europe to Ypres (a town caught up in the horrors in WW1). On the way we stopped off at Lijssenthoek cemetery, the second largest commonwealth graveyard, where 10786 soldiers and one female nurse (Nelly Spindler) are buried.
On the second day, after exploring Ypres town centre, the coach headed to Passchendaele Memorial Museum, which as well as having artefacts from the war it had a replica of a trench and dugout. From there the group visited the nearby Tyne Cot cemetery (the largest commonwealth cemetery in Belgium with 11965 casualties), before touring other cemeteries in the Passchendaele and Ypres area, such as the German cemetery Langemark holding 44,294 casualties, many of which buried in a mass grave. In the evening the coach headed back to Ypres for the Last Post ceremony, which is commemorated at the Menin Gate ceremony, in which Ivybridge Community College laid a wreath along with many other schools and groups.
On our last full day we headed into France to the site of the Battle of the Somme, visiting the Canadian site Vimy Ridge where the group took a tour of trenches there as well as visiting the Canadian memorial. Later the coach stopped at the Thiepval memorial, where many names and a few graves are located of those who were considered ‘missing’ from the Somme, the most bloody battle of WWI. We also visited the Devonshire trench and cemetery while in France and paid our respects to our ‘local boys’ for the sacrifice they made during the war.
On our final day we visited the ‘Flanders Field’ museum where we again got to see artefacts from the war along with read individual stories of men who did not survive. Our final, more light-hearted stop before departing at Calais was to a chocolate factory where we got to hear a little about the chocolate making process and were able to decorate our own bar of chocolate before shopping for presents.