Learning - Safe Happy and Learning Together

Battlefield Tour 2015

SHaLT Strand - Together 4 - T4

"Understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and that of others (Cultural)"

Last month, we had the privilege of accompanying Year 8 pupils Michael Smith and Hayden Franks on a First World War battlefields trip. The four day excursion was organised by the UCL Institute of Education and fully funded by the Government to mark the centenary anniversary of World War One.

 

On Sunday 13th September we joined over 30 other schools from the West Midlands to embark on a four day visit to Belgium and France.  The first night was spent at Grosvenor Hall in Ashford where Michael and Haydn completed a high ropes course and were also able to handle World War One artefacts.  Haydn especially liked firing the Lee Enfield rifle! The next morning we were up early to travel through the Eurotunnel to Belgium.  With a full English breakfast devoured, we set off to visit Lijssenthoek Cemetery and the death cells at Poperinge.  Here were able to look at the different gravestones and learn about the lives, faiths and culture of some of those soldiers that dies during battle.  We also got to discuss and reflect on some moral dilemmas during these visits such as whether the British Army should have been allowed to kill its own soldiers for falling asleep at their post? We finished the afternoon at the Flanders Field Museum before we headed off to our hotel in Ypres. The day didn’t stop there though! After our evening meal we were fortunate enough to participate in the ceremony at The Menin Gate.  Every evening a remembrance ceremony is held in the middle of the town and people from across the world come to lay poppy wreaths and remember lost soldiers. We completed our evening in style by visiting a wonderful chocolate shop and spending a lot of Euros!

 

Our third day was spent in the area of the Somme. During the morning we visited The Indian memorial at Neuve Chapelle and the preserved battlefield site at Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland memorial park where we got to walk through trenches that are looked after by Canadian students. After a quick lunch we arrived at Thiepval Memorial where we were able to lay tribute to a former West Bromwich Albion player who sacrificed his life in 1917 on The Somme. Ulster tower was our next stop where we were able to see how archaeologists were recreating the frontline in Thiepval Wood.  We even managed to find World War One shrapnel on the farmers’ fields next to the Tower! Our evening meal was followed by an audience with two serving soldiers where we could try on and compare modern day soldier’s equipment.

 

Wednesday was our final day. We became artists by creating clay sculptures which are going to be displayed as part of a huge piece of land art next to the Menin Gate in 1918. Our workshop was followed by a visit to Tyne Cot cemetery to explore whether remembrance is more or less important as the years go by. This visit was especially poignant as we were able to visit the grave of a local Rowley Regis man – John Thomas Hadley who fought with the Machine Gun Corps and lost his life on The Somme.

 

The trip was an amazing experience and non-stop from start to finish (the same could be said about Michael and Haydn’s eating!).  Every minute was accounted for with engaging & thought-provoking activities for both teachers & students alike. Reflecting on past conflicts and how it has shaped our future is something we will not forget.  We hope that we can visit again one day.

To take a look at the video we made to celebrate this amazing experience go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/122397998112986/videos/162317947454324/  

TWS - Battlefield Tour 2015It was a great experience for our pupils to take part in the Battlefield Tour. Take a look...

Posted by The Westminster School on Wednesday, 4 November 2015