Belgium Battlefields 2018

On the evening of the 6th February, 43 Year 9 students, accompanied by 5 members of staff, embarked on a memorable journey to the Battlefields of Western Europe. Although this trip has been an annual event, it continues to be shaped by the individuals on the trip and the questions it raises not only about warfare but also about the horrific conditions endured by so many men from both sides.

The journey down was a smooth one and we were in Belgium by early morning. Students had the opportunity to explore a range of monuments around the Ypres Salient. We visited Essex farm where Captain John McCrae wrote his famous ‘In Flanders Field’ poem. Students also placed a signed Leeds United shirt at the exact place the soldiers got out of the trenches and played football in 1914.

Although the days were long and involved, many thought provoking activities, students also had the opportunity to explore the medieval Belgian town of Ypres and many bought a wide range of chocolates from the world famous chocolatiers of Belgium.

Some students traced the tracks of their ancestors at Tyne Cot Commonwealth cemetery and were able to lay a poppy in remembrance of a soldier they had found. The final day involved a trip down to France to the area around the Somme. Here students were able to explore the Wellington Quarry caves that had hid over 24,000 soldiers prior to the battle of Arras in 1917.

Students’ attitude and behaviour on the trip was a shining example of the high expectations that students set themselves and they continued to ask a range of inquisitive questions back in history lessons after half term.