A three-day tour of the First World War battlefields of Ypres and the Somme was undertaken by 44 year 9 students and six staff.
What followed was an extraordinarily thought-provoking and emotional trip, as students found themselves in the boots of British ‘Tommies’, learning about the experiences of the many men who fought and died in the trenches.
The tour encompassed visits to several museums in France and Belgium, and several war cemeteries, including Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest cemetery
for Commonwealth (and thus British) forces to be found anywhere in the world.
At the German Cemetery at Langemarck, students were able to see the stark contrast between the stately, dignified environment of Tyne Cot, and the sombre, austere atmosphere of a cemetery built on enemy territory. There were opportunities for students to explore preserved trenches, and to stand in the remains of the trench from which the Bradford Pals launched their attack on the German front line on July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. At Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, which bears the names of over 70,000 soldiers who died on the Somme but have no known grave, they laid a memorial plaque, and at the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate two students laid a wreath on behalf of Brighouse High School. Two students had the opportunity to visit the graves of, or locations associated with, their ancestors who perished in the war. This proved to be an especially humbling and moving experience for all.
Of course, during the trip, there was also time for some fun. In Ypres, for example, the group visited an incredible chocolate shop.
All in all, the trip proved to be an invaluable learning experience, complementing and broadening students’ knowledge and understanding of the First World War.