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10 November 2016

Battlefields 2016

On the last Monday of half term, forty seven Fifth Formers and five members of staff embarked on the annual trip to the Battlefields of World War One.  Following a smooth crossing we started the trip by visiting Vimy Ridge, a pivotal site for the Canadian forces during the battle of Arras, before settling in to our accommodation closer to Ypres at the Messines Peace Village.  Day two was spent exploring the Ypres Salient before witnessing the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, and on day three the group travelled to the Somme battlefield to visit the numerous cemeteries and monuments that are spread across the countryside.  Below are the thoughts of two of the pupils who took part in this year’s trip:

I found all the memorials very moving especially the smaller, more personal ones. On the first day, we mainly travelled however we stopped off at Vimy ridge and walked around the Canadian memorial for a while; the tall, white statues made a large impression on me and I'm sure on many of my friends. I liked seeing all the different memorials and the ways countries and artists saw the First World War.  However, what stuck most in my mind for the duration of the trip was the comparison between Tyne Cote and the German Cemetery we looked at. The way in which we look at the War and the way the Germans do shocked me when I entered the German cemetery, as well as the sheer number of people who bravely gave their lives for their nation. What I learned from the trip was not everything I see is seen the same way by others and that war was and still is the absolute worst nightmare anyone has to endure.  Bea Mowat

At the end of half term, a large number of Fifth Form Historians ventured over the channel for the annual history trip. Speaking for my peers I can honestly say it was a completely worthwhile experience. Among many things, we went to the Menin Gate at night to see the tradition of the local fire brigade playing the last post under the arch of the huge memorial. This was breath-taking as hundreds of people were transfixed by the three buglers. We also did a tour of the Somme, specifically the Ypres salient. This really made apparent the sheer number of men that gave their lives during the war. However the part I found most captivating was when we went to a small memorial of twenty or so soldiers from the Devonshire regiment who had all been killed on that first day of the Somme. At the entrance it read, "The Devonshire’s held this trench; the Devonshire’s hold it still." I felt this encapsulated the fighting spirit of the whole allied army. As well as gleaning lots of vital information for our upcoming coursework I think the trip really brought the Great War out of the classroom and into our hearts.  In all, a beneficial and productive trip. Charlie Ford

Reporting by Tom Marriott - Head of History

Photography by Mark Rathbone



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