15th November 15
Year 9 recently went on a history trip to the Battlefields of Ypres and the Somme which was based on our studies of World War 1 at school. It was a very moving trip which helped to reflect the consequences of war.
On our trip we visited famous cemeteries such as the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres, where approximately 34,000 names of British and New Zealand soldiers’, whose remains are still missing, are inscribed. We visited Langemark cemetery, one of only four First World War German cemeteries in the Flanders Region, and the Passchendaele Memorial Museum which has the biggest public collection of the First World War in West Flanders.
It has replica dugout rooms 20 foot deep with headquarters, accommodation, a workshop communication room and a first aid post. Whilst lying in one of the bunk beds in one of the accommodation rooms I couldn’t quite believe how narrow and uncomfortable it was. The museum also had a replica trench system, built with the same materials and methods of construction.
On the second day we visited the Somme in France, where one of the largest battles in WW1 occurred.Over a million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. W
e went to the Theipval Memorial to the Missing, Lochnagar Crater and the Newfoundland Memorial Park.
All of these places brought it home to me how many soldiers were killed and injured in the war, and also the horrible events in which this occurred. For example, the Lochnager Crater is where an explosion occurred on 1st July 1916; 27 tonnes of high explosives went 4,000ft into the air, creating the loudest sound made by humans at that time. More than 6,000 soldiers were killed.
We ended the day by going to the Last Post Ceremony in Ypres, a very moving tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of soldiers who died in defence of their town. It has happened every night at 8pm since the end of World War 1, only stopping in World War 2 when the Nazis’ took over the country and didn’t allow the ceremony to happen.
Sadly, we had to come home early on the last day, due to the terrorist attack in Paris. It seems ironic that whilst on a trip about World War 1, a modern type of war occurred nearby.
All in all, I really enjoyed the battlefields trip. Being with the rest of my year was really nice as it was the first time we have all been together properly since The Village Project earlier this year. It was a very moving trip which really helped my understanding of firstly the shocking events of WW1 and secondly the vast number of soldiers all over the world who sacrificed their lives for their countries.
Still to this day there is a huge sense of loss at all of the places that we visited and I don’t think that will ever go away. However, in my opinion, nothing can quite match up to the true horrors of war, whether you’re learning about it in class or if you are standing on the actual battlefields.
Thanks to Student Reporter Tara, YR9 for covering the experience, Nuray for her photos, and the History Dept for organising the trip.