Ypres 2019

Posted on February 8th 2019

67 year 8 students recently visited part of the Western Front in France and Belgium to further their learning on the First World War. After an early start, the first stop was Vimy Ridge in France. Following the First World War, land on the high ground overlooking the town of Lens and Arras, was given to Canada by the French Government to create a memorial for all the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in France, and have no known grave. As well as visiting the memorial students were able to walk through reconstructed trenches.

From Vimy Ridge, students headed to Ypres in Belgium, the geographically important town that witnessed 4 years of horrendous fighting in the town and villages surrounding it. The visit included stops at Essex Farm Dressing station, which during the war would have been a medical station about a mile behind the front line trenches. It was here that Canadian soldier John McRae is believed to have written the famous war poem, 'Flanders Fields'. The site also had a number of war graves including that of Valentine Strudwick, a 15-year-old, one of the youngest British soldiers to die in the First World War and not much older than the students on the trip.

Students then visited Langemark German cemetery where a large number of soldiers buried were school leavers and many of the burials are in mass graves. Langemark serves as a stark contrast to the Commonwealth cemeteries and reminded us that it was a war with huge losses for all sides involved. We then went on to Tyne Cot Commonwealth cemetery, where thousands of Commonwealth soldiers are buried, the vast majority in unmarked graves. One grave, in particular, was highlighted by Mr Storey, that of one H Boorman, a resident of Faversham who lived on Kings Road and died in 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele. A wreath was laid here on behalf of the school by Jasmin Williams and Jo-Anna Weber-Brodkorb.

The trip culminated in a visit to the town of Ypres where after visiting a chocolate shop students were able to observe the Last Post ceremony beneath the Menin Gate, which brought a fitting conclusion to a moving and memorable day.

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