World War One Battlefields Trip
A group of 44 students and 5 teachers traveled to Belgium and France to see the battlefields and war graves of the First World War.
The trip left early on Friday morning and took the best part of the day to get to Belgium.
En-route to the hotel, the group visited the Brooding Soldier memorial that commemorates the first gas attack by the Germans in April 1915.
After settling in at the hotel and having an evening meal (which included rabbit on the menu), the group walked up to the German Cemetery at Langemark. After looking round the cemetery, the group returned to the hotel for a game of bowls before retiring to bed.
Saturday was the day to visit the signs of Flanders in Belgium. The first visit was to the Passendale museum. Mr Howell and Mr Stevens guided the group around the various exhibits which included replica dugouts and trench lines. After this, the group went to the huge Tyne Cot cemetery where they saw the graves of 50,000 British troops. It was a very moving experience for all.
Next stop was the museum and excavated trenches at Hooge Crater. The group had their lunch before seeing the WW1 medical display in the museum (which is part of the History curriculum). The excavated trenches were very interesting and the guide then showed the group some actual relics that had been dug up, including a Lee Enfield rifle with bayonet and bullets still in place and various grenades etc.
The final visit of the afternoon was to Hill 62. The students could see a vast array of war relics and could then explore the reconstructed trench system and tunnels before everyone had a welcome hot chocolate in the café.
The group then returned to the hotel for the evening meal before heading off to Ypres for the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. After the very short service, the group visited a typical Belgium chocolate shop before returning to the hotel.
Sunday was the day to visit Somme Battlefield sights. After a very early start, the day began at the 'sunken lane'. The students read some eye witness accounts from the 1st of July 1916 and watched some actual film footage from the day.
A church service was then held in the Hawthorn Ridge cemetery. After a few prayers and readings, the students each planted a cross that they had been given, on a grave of a soldier of their choice.
The group then walked up the sunken lane and visited several sights nearby, including the British area behind the lines, gun emplacements and finally the Hawthorne Crater.
After lunch, the group visited the huge memorial to the missing at Thiepval. After looking around the memorial and being able to locate the names of some relatives, the group headed to Newfoundland Memorial park and saw the remains of the preserved battlefield.
The next stop was the huge Lochnagar Crater. The pupils could walk all the way round the crater and experience how big it was.
The coach then set off for the hotel and evening meal.
Monday was the last day of the trip. After breakfast, the pupils finished packing and boarded the coach. The final stop was in Poeperinge. They visited ‘Talbot House’, a safe place behind the British front lines where soldiers could relax and forget the horrors of the war. Then, the final visit of the trip was to the death cells in the town hall. A sad place, it is where British soldiers spent their last night before facing death by firing squad.
After this, the group boarded the coach and headed back to Nottingham.
A huge thank you goes to Mr Howell for being the group leader and organizing the whole trip. He also did a lot of guiding around the various sights, passing on his wealth of historical knowledge in his own unique style.
A big thank you also goes to Mr Stevens who helped with the trip logistics and helped plan some extra visits into the whole trip. He also did some guiding, as well as bringing along some artefacts to show during the trip, to help complete the all round experience for the students of the Great War.
A big thank you also goes to Miss Bennett, Dr Wilson and Mr Wilson for giving up their weekend to attend the trip.