WW1 Battlefields Trip

During Activities Week, some of our S3 pupils visited Zeebrugge for a week of exploring the WW1 Battlefields of Belgium and France. We visited Langemark and Tyne Cot Cemeteries, which were two very contrasting experiences. And we enjoyed an afternoon of exploring original artefacts from the War in the Flanders Field Museum.

We were lucky enough to visit the Wellington Quarry to see the miles of underground tunnels dug by the NZ soldiers prior to the battle of Arras, which took place in April, 1917. We also laid Remembrance Crosses on the grave of former pupil, William Anderson West, who died on 21 June 1918.

Later in the trip, we made visits to the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Thiepval, Lochnagar Crater and the cairn dedicated to McCrae's Battalion, Contalmaison. We also paid a visit to Essex Farm, where the poem In Flanders Field was written and Passchendaele Memorial Museum, which was an opportunity to learn about the Battle in 1917.

Overall, we had a fantastic trip, in which we learned a lot. Some of our pupils' reflections of the WW1 Battlefields Trip can be read below:

Olivia George

I will always remember this trip, because I placed a Remembrance Cross on the grace of W. Breeze, who died on the same date as my late grandfather's birthday, 22nd February.

At Wellington Quarry, it was eerie to actually walk in the footsteps of those soldiers.

At the Menin Gate ceremony, looking up and seeing the huge walls filled with names was very powerful. Listening to the Last Post being played made the ceremony even more poignant.

Calum Mitchell

When we left Thiepval Monument, I was shocked by how many people's names were there. Seeing the amount of people remembered there really put the reality of the war into perspective.

Zara-Jane Green

It was upsetting to see how many graves were at Tyne Cot Cemetery. They were all so well kept and laid out neatly. There were many flowers and poppies and I placed my Remembrance Cross on J E Jaggers' grave. He died at the age of 20 and was part of the Yorkshire Regiment.

Lorian Richmond

The most memorable part of the trip was going to the sites of real battles, seeing how close the front lines were and walking across the shell holes and craters of no man's land.

Fraser Watson

At Tyne Cot Cemetery, I felt overwhelmed by being surrounded by the world's biggest Commonwealth War Grave. I placed my poppy on a grave that had the same last name as me.

Morvern Barnaby

At the Trenches of Death in Diksmuide, the things I have learnt about WW1 and the trenches were brought to life. I learnt about the layout of the trenches and that people actually fighting there had to stand up to sleep as it was so cramped. I hadn't realised how close the German soldiers were to the Belgian trenches.

Cameron Lambert

When a wreath was laid at the Menin Gate Ceremony on behalf of the school, it made me proud to be a member of George Heriot's School. I really noticed the silence during the ceremony and the fact they do this every night is amazing to me!

David Fairley

At Newfoundland Memorial Park, the Scottish Monument for the soldiers who died was most memorable, because it showed me how many countries were heavily involved in the Battles in France and Belgium and how many other foreign countries made sacrifices for the War.

Euan Keatinge

When we saw the death cells and the place where the soldiers would be shot, it drew out greater emotion than I had felt before, as these people who suffered from mental illnesses endured while fighting for their country, were slaughtered by their own men. I felt these men were used as pawns in a war of politics and upper class quarrels.

Catriona Anderson-Gholami

Talbot House was the most memorable place for me as it still felt as if the soldiers were there and the atmosphere of the house and garden was so calming. I felt that I could fully imagine the soldiers laughing and being happy away from the front lines and it gave me a happy, yet sad, feeling.

Oliver Hean

For me, the most memorable part was Thiepval due to the sheer size of it. It was breathtaking to see the amount of people commemorated on it. Similarly, at the Menin Gate, it made me really value the thousands of men who died at the Ypres Salient and how they are still remembered.

Jasper Harris

What stood out for me was the difference between the Tyne Cot and Langemark cemeteries. Different governments seem to have very different attitudes towards fallen soldiers. I found it upsetting that Germans weren't allowed to decorate their graves.

Ishana Sarath

The Battlefields Trip was an amazing trip. I will never forget the visit to Wellington Quarry and seeing the pictures the soldiers had drawn on the walls before they went into Battle.

Fraser Kentish

The most memorable part of the trip was seeing the trenches in real life, and seeing how cramped they were. It helped me understand the struggles the soldiers faced.

Ross Campbell

I believe that Tyne Cot Cemetery made me change my perspective on the war as a whole as it made me realise how many people suffered. I will definitely remember laying down the wreath at the Menin Gate Ceremony because I was able to represent my whole school and pay our respects. As a result of this trip, I will forever be grateful to the men who fought in the War.

Charlie MacLeod

At Passchendaele Memorial Museum, we saw the recreation of the beds and could experience how uncomfortable they were and see the contrast between the officers' and the regular soldiers' beds. It must have been horrible and nerve-wracking to be there.

Charlie Kentish

At Flanders Field, the thing that stood out was how unhygienic the operating theatre would have been. We learnt that sometimes water would be up to peoples' knees and if you dropped an instrument, it would just be wiped and used again.

Mac Campbell

At Wellington Quarry, it was really eerie and hearing the different stories made it more memorable. Lochnagar Crater also made me see how easy it is to create such damage in a matter of seconds.

Imogen Mutch

What I found the most memorable were the visits to the Quarry, Memorial Museum and the Trenches because these things made the War more real and made me imagine what it would have been like. I feel the trip has been scary, enlightening and interesting.

Jack Cruickshank

I had a great time learning about WW1 and I was astonished to see the amount of people who sacrificed themselves for their country.

Oscar Williams

At Menin Gate, it felt strange how out of the hundreds of people there, and the streets filled with cars, the place went completely silent and the sound of the trumpets just filled the atmosphere. It was very respectful.

Elijah Kwon

When I first saw the crater at Lochnagar, I was astounded by the size of it. It made me think about the bodies that could be underneath. On the trip, I have discovered a lot more about the conditions of the War, much more about the soldiers who fought and what they would have encountered.

 

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