Journeying across France and Belgium, Year 9 students enjoyed a week of educational travel to awe-inspiring locations on our annual battlefields trip – Isabella (9M) tells us more.
The trip was very eventful – starting with scenes from the Titanic being re-enacted on the deck of the ferry as we crossed. We drove through elegant Diksmuide (our base for the trip), before visiting the Vladslo German war cemetery. It was interesting to study the differences between German and Commonwealth cemeteries; both being respectful in their own ways.
Bright and early, we headed to Tyne Cot Memorial, where I laid a Remembrance Cross on the memorial of Lewis McGee, awarded a Victorian Cross for his actions in the Battle of Broodseinde. It was emotional for many who found family members. Weaponry was on display at the Sanctuary Wood Museum, and we immersed ourselves in the trenches and tunnels and explored massive underground caverns at the Passchendaele Museum – the backpack, helmet, gun and boots were incredibly heavy! Following a late lunch, we headed to the Langemark and Essex Farm cemeteries, where Juliette read the poem Flanders Field beautifully, bringing to life the true meaning of the words written.
Delicious chocolate shopping in Ypres – hand-crafted chocolates, macaroons and flying saucers – was followed by the Menin Gate ceremony where the buglers have played ‘The Last Post’ every night since 1928. Our school laid a wreath to commemorate those who were lost and never found.
The traditional shopkeepers in Arras, France, didn’t understand a word of my twisted French speaking, but the massive structures of the cathedral stand tall, and the Arras memorial honours soldiers of the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand. The height and grandeur of Vimy Ridge was prominent and I laid a wreath with the other form leaders to pay tribute to the Battle of Arras of which Vimy Ridge was the main observation point.