Last weekend, 40 boys and girls from Year 10 spent 2 days on the Ypres Salient in Belgium. It’s difficult to emphasise just what an important experience this is for any person, in part because the lies from their leaders, the sheer waste of life and the impartial injustice to all are so starkly evident. Their visit included:
- visiting the UEFA memorial battlefield site of the famous Xmas 1914 fraternisation between Tommy and the Boche, where Christmas gifts were exchanged and we lost on penalties to the Germans in umpteen impromptu games of football;
- sitting in the Hooge crater area, learning about the bravery of the 175th Tunnelling company whose gallery excavations covered 58m, where they exploded 2 huge bombs to literally undermine the enemy;
- conducting a headstone survey at Tyne Cot cemetery, the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces – this is the largest number of burials contained in any Commonwealth cemetery of either the First or Second World War, and the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world;
- following the lives of some known individuals of the First World war period through the ‘In Flanders’ Field‘ museum;
- attending the Last Post ceremony (our 4 in the last quartet) and laying a wreath in respect for all the fallen, including those former pupils of Maidenhead College, whose names are on the Menin Gate where the service takes place;
- visiting the trenches and exploring the use of military equipment at the Passchendaele Museum;
- contrasting commonwealth war memorials with those of the German allies at Langemark cemetery;
- appreciating and understanding the horror of a gas attack at the advanced field dressing station at Essex farm;
- visiting the Lijssenthoek military hospital site at Poperinge, learning more about Triage, battlefield dressings and the care of the wounded during this period, whilst also appreciating that so many other nationalities lost their lives in and shortly the Great War.
Throughout the 2 days, we were accompanied by Warrant Officer Richie Parsons, now a territorial medical officer but accompanying school trips to add detailed factual accuracy and exemplar kit demonstrations at our many stops over the 2 days. Below you can see some a collage given a sense of our learning experience over the 2 days.