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Greenfield Staff and Students visit World War 1 Battlefields

posted 8 Oct 2014, 04:31 by anna.cole@greenfieldschool.net

Two students from Greenfield Community College, accompanied by their teacher Mr Johnson, had the opportunity to visit Belgium and France and some of the battlefields of World War 1 recently. The two students won the opportunity in a national History competition, funded by the government as part of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

The tour started in Darlington, and a coach to Kingswood educational centre in Ashford Kent for teambuilding and educational activities with the other competition winners. Whilst there the students had the opportunity to get to know their fellow travellers, and learn more about the context of the First World War.

After a few days in Kent the group set off for Belgium and France – the first location which was Tyne Cot cemetery in Belgium, which was built to commemorate the battle of Ypres and contains 12,000 British war graves. The Greenfield group found it deeply moving to see this amount of life lost, reflecting on the futility of war. This was followed by a visit to the German cemetery at Langemark, where it struck the group that the Germans remember their war dead very differently.

The next stop gave the group the opportunity to find out more about the human story of the trenches – a visit to the Memorial Museum of Passchendaele. After a long first day the group returned to their hotel for a meal and some time to reflect upon the events of the day. Later that evening they visited the very moving ceremony at the Menin Gate, a memorial to those men of the third battle of Ypres who do not have a grave.

The second day was spent on another part of the front close to the river Somme. They visited the Thiepval monument, a memorial to the missing of the Battle of the Somme, and there again was an opportunity to find out the human story and the most memorable part of the trip for the group to the Sheffield Memorial park. Here they learnt about the terrible sacrifice of the Pals Battalion on their assault of the village of Serre. Later the group reflected upon the sacrifice of the Ulster division with their attack on the German stronghold of the Swarben Redoubt and also the very brave miners who mined underneath German trenches and created the Lochnagar crater.

The trip was a great opportunity for the Greenfield group,  Mr Johnson, a History Specialist at Greenfield said: “It was an amazing experience and both pupils and myself were deeply moved by what we experienced. It made me think overall about the futility of war and why we as a human society still continue to have wars.”

The students will be sharing their experience with their fellow pupils over the coming weeks in assemblies, as we continue this year of Remembrance.

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