Year 9 recently went on a fantastic trip to Belgium and France where we discovered many fascinating battlefields and learnt new information about World War 1. There were around 25 people who went on this trip and the journey there was rather long and tiring! We set off at 5:30am, with the pitch-black sky above us. The journey to France was 7 hours as we had to travel all the way to the EuroTunnel and then crossed the English Channel to get to France.
Eventually, we reached Calais and travelled down to the city of Ypres which was in Belgium. In Ypres, we visited Lijssenthoek cemetery which was a burial ground during the war for the British next to a hospital. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Bloomfield who was a British architect. Moving on from that, we also went inside and explored a replica of the German trench network.
In the evening, we got the exciting opportunity to buy ourselves some delicious Belgian chocolates near to our hostel, which was my favourite of course. The shop had a variety of different shapes to sizes and flavours which all looked very appealing. Shortly afterwards, we headed for dinner and had some wonderful food. The final activity after that was heading to the Menin Gate to watch a very special but meaningful ceremony dedicated to the soldiers who fought in World War 1.
The following day we visited the Somme area where the British, French and Germans fought a massive battle in 1916. It was very interesting to see how the different sides fought, their tactics and what the consequences were. We also had a glance at the cemetery of the Somme which was positioned between No Man’s Land. Additionally, we learnt about the role of Ulstermen and Billy McFadzean who was awarded the Victoria Cross. Our guide taught on how to use grenades (not real ones!). We saw the enormous mine crater at Lochnager. Finally, we visited the monument at Thiepval and remembered the missing soldiers whose bodies were not recognised or found whilst they fought. In the evening, Lottie was dressed up in the uniform of a British soldier and we learned about their weapons and equipment.
October 20th was our last and final day which I was rather sad about as I immensely enjoyed the trip, however we got to see the Island of Ireland memorial to those from both North and South Ireland who fought in the war. We found out about the lessons learnt from the Somme: the creeping barrage and its role in the Messines Ridge. We then continued and discovered the evolution of gas masks and the use of poisonous gas. It has come a rather long way from socks to protective masks. After that, we visited the Polygon Woods where the 3rd battle of Ypres was. Finally, we stopped at the Tyne Cot, our last stop where we held a private ceremony of Remembrance.
Overall, I loved the trip as I think it was a great opportunity as I expanded my knowledge about World War 1 and loved exploring the different monuments.
by Sanchita Mittal, Year 9