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Battlefields trip highlights the importance of remembrance

Third Year pupils pay their respects during their Battlefields trip

After a pandemic-enforced break, the annual Third Year History trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium made a return during the Autumn half-term break.

In France the pupils visited a number of sites and museums in the Somme area.

At the underground Somme 1916 Museum they discovered what a World War One soldier’s life was like and examined a number of artefacts.

They were amazed by the size of the Lochnagar Crater, which was created when British mines exploded and marked the start of the Battle of the Somme at 7.20am on 1st July 1916.

At the Newfoundland Memorial Park pupils explored a trench system first-hand and learnt about the horrors of this type of warfare from their guide.

At the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, a couple of Third Year pupils laid a wreath in memory of Old Stopfordians lost in battle.

The trip continued as the travelling group made their way over the border to Belgium and the beautiful town of Ypres – a place that was completely flattened by the fighting in the First World War but which has since been rebuilt to its previous magnificent medieval architecture.

The History students visited the interactive Passchendaele Museum in Zonnebeke where they viewed the extensive collection of objects and impressive photographs.

They also visited the Commonwealth cemetery Tyne Cott, the German war cemetery of Langemark, and Essex Farm Cemetery – close to the location where John McCrae worked as a medic and wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.

The pupils attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, where pupils Giulia Burns and Thomas Stanton had the honour of representing the school and laying a wreath in the moving remembrance ceremony.

The trip complements the work being done by the Third Years in class and serves as a timely reminder to all those who go of the importance of remembrance.

Pupil William Crowton said: “I was particularly keen to go on the trip because I had a great-great-great uncle who shared my inherited name. My family knew he had died in the war and was remembered somewhere in France but nobody before me had ever visited. I did a bit of research with my family before we left and I found that he was remembered at Thiepval Memorial in the Somme and we found a location for his grave on a special War Graves website.”

“I will certainly remember this trip for the rest of my life and I think it is important for as many future pupils as possible to get the same opportunity.”

Fellow Third Year Giulia Burns added: “The Battlefields trip was a very memorable experience that really put things into perspective for me. When you are in a History lesson learning about the casualties and what life was like in the trenches, you can never fully imagine the enormity of the war but when you step out onto the battlefields…you can’t help to feel mournful for the men who lost their lives.”

“One thing that stood out was the grave with no name and just the inscription – the soldiers known only to God. I could not help but think of their families.”