On the 28th October we took 54 of our Year 11 historians to the Battlefields in Ypres, Belgium. This opportunity has allowed these students to further develop their understanding and appreciation of the events during World War 1 and subsequently support their study. We were joined throughout the journey by Seargent Parsons who gave us consistent insightful and relevant information to supplement the areas that students visited.

Our first day led us to visit to the Passchendaele Museum, this gave the students the opportunity to see what happened at this battleground. Afterwards we visited Tyne Cot Cemetery, this is the largest Commonwealth War Graves memorial in Belgium and has over 11,000 people buried there as well as a further 30,000 men mentioned whose bodies could not be found. This was a particularly poignant moment of the trip.

The following day on the 29th October we had many activities and visits planned throughout the day. First stop was to visit Hill62 trenches and museum, this is an original trench dug during World War 1 that has been maintained. Students also got to see the type of uniform, protection and weapons that soldiers used during World War 1. Afterwards we went to Birr Crossroads which was a smaller cemetery that held other soldiers from World War 1. Before lunch we visited Hooge Crater Museum and looked around the museum and had a small lecture by Sargeant Parsons about the medical issues faced during World War 1. Following lunch we visited two more cemeteries, Essex Farm and Lijssenthoek. Unfortunately, during this visit the weather decided to shift affecting the visit. However, students were still able to see Nellie Spinder’s headstone, the only woman buried at Lijssenthoek. We also saw the Popperinghe death cells, where soldiers who executed if they abandoned their post during the war. The final activity of the day was taking part in the Last Post Ceremony and the Menning Gate. Every night in Ypres there is a ceremony to remember the fallen, we had the chance to be a part of this ceremony and lay a wreath. Two students, Jamie Yarnold and Holly Riley fantastically represented the school in laying a wreath during this ceremony.

The final day we began by visiting Langemark German Military Cemetry, the largest cemetery in Belgium for German soldiers buried. We began the journey back afterwards and, on the way, back visited the Wellington tunnels. These were a selection of underground trenches that built by New Zealanders to offer protection and support. Students were able to go through the tunnels and have a guided tour by the staff at the tunnels explaining what happened here.

The students were a credit throughout the trip. The displayed empathy and a willingness to know more about what was happening. They asked constant questions towards Sargeant Parsons who also mentioned what a fantastic group they were. We had a fantastic time on this experience and we hope the students did too.