With bleary eyes, this year’s Form 3 gathered together for the annual Battlefields trip at Westminster Lodge car park at 5:30am, on the Saturday of the May Bank Holiday; waving at the boys camped out for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award on the school field.
The First Day of the trip took in sites in and around the town of Ypres in Belgium, including the preserved trench system at Bayernwald, the haunting German Cemetery at Langemarck with its mass German graves, and the largest Commonwealth War graves commission cemetery and site of the terrible battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot. Without doubt, the effect of seeing row upon row of graves as well as over 54,000 names on the Menin Gate in the town of Ypres really brought home to the students the scale of the losses in this corner of Belgium over 100 years ago.
The second day focussed on the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After having completed a short walking tour of a portion of the British line, we then visited the preserved battlefield at Beaumont Hamel which is dedicated to the memorial of the Newfoundland forces who fought on the Somme, followed by a visit to the gigantic Lochnagar crater. We finished the tour with a short reflection at the memorial to the missing of the Somme at Thiepval.
The trip was brilliantly guided by our guides from Anglia Tours, who were able to combine their vast historical knowledge with their military backgrounds to give the students a profound and insightful impression of the war on the Western Front.