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Enrichment Trips and Visits

First World War Centenary Battlefield Tour

Harmonize students, Michael Meaden and Elliott-Jake Shields were delighted to be chosen to represent the school on a tour of the Battlefields of the Somme to commemorate the centenary of World War One.

The trip included visits to the Flanders Field Museum, military cemeteries and memorial sites in Belgium and France, a tour of reconstructed trenches and bunkers as well as a programme of educational activities about WW1. Both Elliot and Michael found the trip very moving and discovered so much about what happened and how the soldiers lived and died.

Elliott was impressed by the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme in France and also the playing of Last Post which takes place every day at the Menin Gate in Belgium.  He was struck by the scale of Lochnagar Crater in France dug by the British under German lines where unexploded mines are located. Elliott thought that the reconstruction of trench life gave a good sense of how hundreds of young soldiers must have felt as they tried to survive and live with the fear of being shot.

Elliott didn’t know very much about WW1 before the trip and said,

“I didn’t think I would feel anything about events which happened so long ago but I was surprised to find that I really did feel moved.  It was strange to think about how awful it must have been”.

Michael was fascinated by the artefacts on display in the museums they visited at Flanders and Passchendaele – everyday objects found in the mud and pictures of the frontline left him feeling sad but also keen to find out more.  He was surprised to learn that so many soldiers died and that French and German casualties were buried in mass graves together identified by a French cross or a German stone.  He said,

“Here we were in the biggest cemetery in the world looking for a soldier who came from Kensington in Liverpool just near our school; we felt very sad when we found his grave.  There was another story about a 15 year old boy who joined up and was killed aged 16 – just the same age as we are now. We saw how the injured soldiers would be taken from the frontline to the hospital still under fire and how awful it was for the young nurses also who had to treat them. “

The trip has given Elliott and Michael a thirst for history and they both said that they would like to go back to find out more.  Teaching Assistant , Neal King who accompanied the boys agreed that the visit was hugely beneficial and also hoped to return with more students.

The tour was funded by the Department for Education and Department for Communities and Local Government.