Year 8 WW1 Battlefields
Year 8 History trip to WW1 Battlefields in Belgium and France
On Thursday 25 and Friday 26 May 2023, just prior to half term, 118 Year 8 historians and 15 members of staff embarked on a two-day whistle stop tour of the battlefields of the First World War in France and Belgium.
Following a very early 02:45 departure from Cirencester, our three coaches made their way to Dover, picking up their expert guides along the way, before crossing by ferry to Calais. A short journey from Calais took the pupils to Lijssenthoek CWGC Cemetery where our guides took the pupils through a range of topics including the causes of WW1, the role of women and troops from the British Empire and their role on the western front.
The three coaches then split into a rotation of activities including Langemarck German Cemetery, Vancouver Corner and Memorial Museum Passchendaele. The pupils investigated the use of chemical weapons, the German cemetery ethos and the links between WW1 and WW2. The Memorial Museum Passchendaele was a particular favourite amongst both pupils and staff as everyone had the opportunity to explore a wide range of artefacts relating to the First World War, as well as try on uniform from the Great War and walk through recreations of British and German trenches.
The group re-convened at Tyne Cot Cemetery for a moving service of remembrance where three poppy wreaths were laid. Pupils were respectful and thoughtful during this poignant service and we would like to praise them for their maturity.
A short journey to Ypres/Ieper followed and dinner at a local restaurant before the exhausted party headed to their hotels for a well-deserved rest.
Everyone was up bright and early on Day 2 and the group departed Belgium for the Somme. Here the coaches rotated through a number of key sites associated with the conflict, including Sunken Lane, Newfoundland Memorial Park, Ulster Tower and Lochnagar Crater, exploring a diverse range of topics from the Somme to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The final stop on the itinerary saw all three coaches reconvene at Thiepval Memorial to the Missing for the chance of reflection and a discussion on the lasting legacies of the First World War.
A short journey to Calais and another ferry (albeit slightly delayed) crossing saw the pupils say goodbye and thank you to our expert guides in Dover before the journey back to Cirencester. The weary group arrived back at around 01:30 on Saturday morning with a phenomenal depth of understanding and a plethora of incredible memories.
I would like to thank the tireless staff for their efforts and the incredible pupils for their maturity. They were a pleasure to travel with and we look forward to our 2024 trip!
Ollie: This trip was amazing. I learned new things about WW1 and had fun with my friends. I will remember this trip for the rest of my life. I hope that others will get to experience this trip, from the chocolate shop to the laughs in the luxury bus.