30 April 2019

The intrepid Mr McGill and a merry band of history teachers took 49 third year pupils to sunny Belgium and France for an incredibly successful history trip.

The early start was no matter for our young historians who were in good cheer from 5am to late that day. The first day saw them take in the fascinating Lijssenthoek cemetery, a former British casualty clearing station of the First World War and resting place to a wonderful array of soldiers from around the globe.

Many boys were struck by the fact a number of German tombstones were to be found alongside Allied tombstones. Hill 62, where original Allied trenches are preserved superbly, and Tyne Cot CWGC cemetery followed.

Following on, we had a brief pit-stop for a hearty Belgian dinner in Ypres and the customary chocolate shop visit to keep spirits up. The boys then observed the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate impeccably.

Day two focused on the travails of both sides at the Somme, France, and we took in the Sunken Road and the Newfoundland Regiment Memorial Park. The opportunity to wear some genuine Tommy uniform did not pass the boys by and, thereafter, we finished at the splendid Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

The final day brought home the truly international dimension of the conflict and the crucial role soldiers of the Empire and Commonwealth made to the British war effort. A poignant visit to the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial preceded our final stop at Vimy Ridge, where the Canadians so famously triumphed in April 1917.

It was also a great opportunity for the boys to experience a section of the supreme 10-mile tunnel network created by the Canadians by 1917.

As ever, the Battlefields trip was a great success. Thanks go to Mr McGill for rallying the troops from the frontline and to Mr Chase, Mr Jackson, Mr Knowland and Mr O’Doherty for supporting.

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