02 Jun Ypres Trip – Year 8
The day started early, with our departure from school at 6.40am. We travelled via Euro Tunnel for our journey to France and on to Ypres in Belgium. It was a glorious day, but very hot at times and despite our delays, we were able to experience the sites where some of the worst battles of the First World War took place.
We saw the remnants of shells and weapons, which have been gathered for us to see, near Hill 62 and in the Hooge Crater museum, a few kilometres from the city of Ypres. The three battles which took place there were hard fought and left their mark on the landscape, with rows upon rows of white headstones, in small and large cemeteries. Our Flemish guides gave us some useful background information about the soldiers who fought and died there. It seemed quite difficult to equate the battle scarred landscape of a hundred years ago with the peaceful farming area, which is now evident for all to see.
After a short journey, we arrived at the site of a reconstituted trench, where we were able to walk through and experience the snake-like nature of a trench system, with its protective cover of sand bags and dug outs. The next stop took us to the Essex Farm cemetery, where one of the youngest British soldiers died fighting – he was fifteen and had lied about his age in order to enlist and fight.
We went on to Ypres for a chocolate shop stop and our main meal for the evening, before getting ready for the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. Our two representatives, Sara Pelham and Natalie Al-Khalil, laid our poppy wreathes during the silent part of the commemoration, joining the other wreathes and flowers from other schools and organisations. Special thanks to Mr. Diggle, Mr Ingram and their class for making and donating their poppy wreath for this ceremony.
This longest day and evening finished back at school in the early hours of Saturday morning, with the achievement of having experienced an important part of the history of the First World War.