Battlefields Trip - July 17

On the 7th July 2017 the King Harold history department took 26 year 9 students to Ypres, in Belgium, for the night. The year 9 students had been studying World War 1 and this was a great opportunity for the students to see where history happened.

Our journey started at 5am on the Friday with our students very excited to be embarking on a trip abroad. Once we arrived safely in Belgium our first stop was to see the German cemetery, Langemark. What really made this cemetery stand out for our students is the darkness of it. As the war had only just ended when the German soldiers were being laid to rest the cemetery reflects the pain that the war had inflicted on Belgium. As we headed to Tyne Cot, the biggest British cemetery in Belgium, there was a stark contrast between the treatment of the allied British soldiers and the ‘hated’ German soldiers. The students were able to look at registers here to find names of possible relatives. Freddie Pearson, a student, managed to find a relative of his and of whom he is named after. It was an emotional moment as the past and the present linked up. We couldn’t not visit a trench so we went to Passchendaele to experience real life dug outs and the claustrophobia of a trench. The students were able to walk through and experience part of what it might have felt like to fight in the war, many were not very keen!

The final part of the day was to take part in the Menin Gate, Last Post ceremony in Ypres. We were extremely fortunate to be able to take part in the ceremony as many schools attend every day. Kacey Ashley and Freddie Pearson were invited to lay a wreath on behalf of King Harold School along with English teacher Stuart Springthorpe. The students were very brave as there were many people there to watch the popular ceremony and they did the school proud.

The following day was just as busy as we made our way to two more military cemeteries. Here we were able to explore the graves of many different nationalities and races of the soldiers who had fought and died during World War 1. This had a real impact on the students who are aware of Britain’s multi-culturalism. We finished our trip with a visit to the Hooge Crater museum where there were many artefacts to be found. We were able to see the crater which was blown up by miners during World War 1 and had created a huge hole in the ground. This was now a lake.

The students thoroughly enjoyed themselves and found this to be invaluable in the linking of the past with the present. Also we got to eat some Belgium chocolate!