Over 80 pupils set off for a memorable weekend in France and Belgium, exploring significant historical sites.
Year 9 and 10 pupils embarked on a three-day trip, engaging with history and poetry, as they visited a number of WWI battlefields. Molly and Sophia in Year 9 report back on the highlights of their trip:
“Visiting both French and German cemeteries included a multitude of deeply touching moments, from voluntary poetry readings to finding the resting places of relatives. We even explored a real, preserved trench – the labyrinth of shelters and tunnels made for a fascinating experience. As well as visiting the Ypres Salient and the Somme, we went to the Passchendaele Mueseum: a treasure trove of historical artefacts and engaging videos, and an opportunity to experience a recreated dugout and trench, as we lay on wooden bunks and observed the meticulously crafted plastic recreations of soldiers performing everyday wartime tasks.
Throughout the trip, our seemingly infinitely knowledgeable tour guide kept us on our toes and provided fascinating historical context for each site. Whilst much of the trip held a sombre tone, the coach journeys were punctuated by many funny moments as we kept each other’s spirits high…. Over dinner on our first night, we had time to take in the impactful sights and experiences of the day.
We also had the opportunity to attend one of Ypres’ nightly remembrance ceremonies held at the magnificent Menin Gate: a memorial with over 55,000 names of the fallen inscribed on its walls. Trumpets played ‘The Last Post’ as members of the local community laid wreaths of poppies at the foot of the gate. After the ceremony we headed to bed, but returned on our final day to experience the many other things Ypres had to offer, including a memorial church with remembrance plaques lining every wall. Some free time gave us the opportunity to meet perhaps the most charismatic chocolate salesman since Willy Wonka at a local chocolate shop, and we exited the shop with lighter wallets and significantly heavier bags, ready to enjoy our spoils on the trip home.
As we piled back on the coach and then onto the ferry, we reflected on what we had seen and learnt over the course of the weekend… At the end of the journey we thanked our guide, our lovely coach drivers, and of course the teachers who made the trip possible. It certainly was a trip filled with emotional moments but many enjoyable ones too – both of which will be remembered for a long time to come.”