Our Head of History, Mrs Sian Mulvihill took the time to write up a brief overview of the trip:
An early start at 7.30 meant a quiet coach until we got past Birmingham until we found that we could play music via the mic, so we had a coach singalong at 11am. It was such fun watching the whole coach doing YMCA.
The trip across the Euro tunnel went smoothly, and it was great fun with everyone trying to convince each other to look for fish through windows.
Finally, we settled in the hostel for a well-deserved rest. We went directly to our hostel, “Poppies” in Ypres. It’s very handily situated in the town itself and caters perfectly to school groups like ours. The table tennis and pool table were very popular.
This was a very busy day. We had a tour of Essex Farm where John McCrae, who was only 15 years old, was stationed in the war and is now buried.
We visited the German Cemetery at Langemark which is in stark contrast to the British and Commonwealth graves. Our tour guide Dirk was very knowledgeable.
It was then a visit to the In Flanders Field Museum where the pupils researched the battles around the area and some walked all the way up the top of the main tower to view the area.
Then, for some, one the most exciting parts of the trip; chocolate shopping in the best shop in Ypres. Hopefully, some of this made it home to friends and family.
After dinner, we all went to the Menin Gate for the remembrance service (which takes place every night at 8pm) where 3 of our pupils were chosen to take part in the wreath-laying ceremony while the rest of us watched. It was very moving.
We started the day with a drive to France and the Town of Arras where we visited the Wellington Quarry. Wearing Tin hats and an electronic tour guide around our necks, we descended the 20 metres underground to the converted underground quarry where 24,000 men were stationed before the assault against the Germans. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and got to appreciate how these men felt.
Then on to our 3-hour tour of the Somme.
We visited Beaumont Hamell the memorial to the Newfoundlanders and experienced the British and German trenches. We visited Thiepval memorial where one of our pupils found some interesting information about one of their ancestors who is named on the memorial. This remembers those who are missing and never found.
We then visited Lochnagar Crater, a huge explosion crater which is 20 metres deep. This was created by tunnelling and placing explosives under what the Allies hoped was the German frontline. The blast was so enormous that the sound could be heard in London.
A busy day indeed.
This was our last day of the trip and we were all up and packed by 9.30. We went to the Pachendale museum and spent time looking at artifacts from the Great War and our pupils were able to smell what a gas attack to give them some insight into what it must have been like in the trenches.
At the end, we all went through the reconstructed trenches and could see the difference between the two systems. The difference of being in the German trench and British one was very noticeable.
Finally, a long journey home with lots of tired pupils and hopefully, some chocolate left.
Throughout the whole trip, our pupils were respectful and considerate. Tour guides and proprietors of establishments were full of praise for them all. All of the staff are extremely proud of how our pupils conducted themselves, they were all fantastic ambassadors for our school.