Myself, three other Eltham Hill Students and Mr Luke joined a group of other schools, historians and experts on a trip to Belgium and France for four days. We went to see some amazing places like cemeteries, museums and also the actual battlefield where the Battle of the Somme was fought. It was a great experience but also very sad, as I learnt that there were 420,000 British casualties (and 60,000 on the first day alone). We learnt about the big mistake that the generals made on the first day and how many lives were lost because of it.
Eden Rogers 7E
On Monday 16th February we began our journey to Ypres. Along the way, I imagined being a soldier travelling the route (either idealistic or utterly nervous). We first visited Lijssenthoek cemetery. This used to be a British and Commonwealth hospital clearing station so most of those buried were patients of the hospital. Many graves were marked “Known unto God”, in essence, unidentified. This opened our eyes to the tragic effect of war.
One of my personal highlights of the trip was our visit to the memorial museum at Passchendaele. This museum held many artefacts from weapons to the corned beef the men ate. In this museum, we even entered dugouts and trenches identical to the real ones used. In the dugout, the lower-rank soldiers had claustrophobic, shared rooms, sleeping side by side with others, whereas the higher-rank soldiers had private rooms with blankets, personal touches and furniture.
As well as visiting the museum, we spent a day at the Somme Battlefields. This was incredible; we were stepping on land that in the past thousands fought from the 1st July 1916 and onwards. I really felt like I was stepping into the soldiers’ shoes.
I want to say that I am extremely grateful for being part of this trip and am very privileged to have been picked. Throughout the four days, we had a glimpse into life in WW1. We developed a greater understanding of this topic and I was able to empathise with both the soldiers (on both sides) as well as the families and friends. The war both divided countries, but soldiers developed brotherly bonds with their comrades.
Connie Johnson 7E