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  1. Published on: 09/10/2018 08:57 PMReported by: rogerblaxall
    St Bede’s Catholic High School has begun its commemoration and remembrance of the anniversary of the ending of the First World War, with the school gathering names of those killed in action from the local area.

    These soldiers’ and sailors’ names have been written on poppies by pupils as an act of remembrance, while Mrs Morris, the Creative Arts technician, has created a striking ‘Tommy Atkins’ silhouette now erected at the front entrance to the school.

    At the end of September, Mrs Roberts, the Head of the History department, led a powerful and emotional school trip; on the day before departure, students and staff gathered for a remembrance service by our new silhouette, which was led by the school chaplain Clare Guidi, and the service included a poignant playing of the ‘Last Post’ by a Year 9 pupil.

    The school trip was to the battlefield and cemeteries of Ypres Salient in Belgium and the battlefield of the Somme. Pupils visited the Hooge Crater Museum and Sanctuary Wood (Hill 62 Museum) which included an exploration of the day to day life and conditions in the trench system. They also visited Langemark, the German cemetery in the area, and later that day they visited Tyne Cot British Cemetery and memorial to those soldiers with no known grave.

    At the Passchendaele Museum the group explored a newly reconstructed trench system representing some of the most accurate depictions of the trenches of the Great War. The following day, visits were made to Vimy Ridge and then Lochnagar Crater at La Boisselle on the Somme battlefield. Further sites on the Somme, such as Thiepval Memorial and the Newfoundland Park near Beaumont Hamel, were explored.

    The day ended in a very moving way at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, where pupils laid a wreath to remember the thousands whose names are recorded there.

    The last day focused on the medical developments made during WW1. This included a visit to Essex Farm Cemetery & Dressing Station and the cemeteries located near to the WW1 medical bases.

    The trip obviously made a great impression on the students as these comments show:

    ‘Overall, this trip has been amazing. I have seen some wonderful sights that I may never see again. I have found it really interesting and I’m grateful that I had a chance to go on this trip and pay my respects to the soldiers who fought for us and our country. Vimy Ridge and Tyne Cot were my overall favourite but I enjoyed the whole trip from beginning to end. Tyne Cot was very impressive but also upsetting due to the amount of people who had died and were buried there. Vimy Ridge was great too; I found the memorial unbelievable, it was massive and is something I will always remember. Going into the underground tunnels and being where the soldiers worked was interesting as you could see where they once fought in those terrible conditions. The Menin Gate ceremony was very special and moving; the last post being played was an incredible experience as I have never heard it being played with such respect and I will never forget it.’ Rebecca (Year 10)

    ‘It was such an amazing trip to Belgium and a fantastic experience! It was truly amazing! I have learnt so much over last weekend and I will be sure to incorporate it in my future GCSE History work!
    One of my favourite things that we did was visiting the Vimy Ridge. I loved this experience because I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it was: the sculpture was amazing, and the view was simply overpowering. Moreover, it helped me understand the terrain the soldiers had to battle in such as the small craters from the shells and artillery and the trench locations.
    In my opinion, one of the sites that I learnt the most from was Sanctuary Wood. Sanctuary Wood really put into perspective for me the things we learn in class. For example, it helped me understand the conditions and what the trenches actually looked like, how big and long they were etc. Not only that, it was such a fun site to visit, especially when we went through the underground tunnel!’ Roksana (Year 10)

    ‘During this trip I have learned a lot about World War 1, but overall I just think it has been an amazing experience of everywhere we have visited. Everything I got to see was an eye opener for me. From the little things like the bullets and shrapnel, to the bigger things like the cemeteries. Everything gets put into perspective when you get to see them yourself. I have never thought about how many people died during the First World War, but even seeing one cemetery has changed my perspective and made me gain more respect for each and every one of those soldiers, from the highest ranking, to the ones who didn’t even get named.
    I even feel closer to the people around me, people who I just know are now friends because we have shared this short but exciting experience!
    The whole trip was amazing and I would love to do it again for longer!’ Liam (Year 11)

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