Y9 History Trip to the Battlefields of Belgium & Northern France
By Giuliana R and Yara A F, Year 9
On the 3rd of March, the Year 9 history trip to Ypres had begun. We had all been told to meet at school at 04:30, where we would be allocated to our groups and coaches for the entire trip. We then made our way to Dover, which was around a 2 hour coach journey, hoping to get there at around 09:00. After the ferry arrived in Calais, we made our way to our first destination, Passchendaele Museum. After around an hour, we made our way to our other stop, Essex Farm and then travelled to Ypres Lodge, where we were staying.
The next day, we left the Lodge at around 08:00 and left to go to the Somme and Thiepval memorials. In the second half of our day, we spent our time in Ypres, visiting both Langemarck and Tyne Cot Cemetery. Arriving back at the Lodge at 19:00, we had dinner and then went at 20:00 to a memorial in Ypres to attend the Last Post Ceremony.
On our final day, we visited the Wellington Quarry in Arras at around 12:00 and left at 14:30 as we were going to depart from Calais at 15:20. However, our ferry was actually at 17:30, so we spent a lot of time in the Calais Cafe before boarding the ferry and going back to Dover. We then arrived back in London at around 20:30.
The highlights of the weekend were probably Passchendaele Museum, the Last Post Ceremony and the Wellington Quarry, even though the whole trip was extremely memorable and moving.
Passchendaele was very immersive as we walked through underground trenches and outdoor trenches. It really gave a small sense of how the soldiers had to live during the battles. The Last Post Ceremony was incredibly moving and it gave one a sense of pride to be watching it. Walking up the memorial after the ceremony was equally as important, as on the stairs many reefs of poppies (including the one our school brought) were laid out and it shows how this great tragedy brought people around the world together to pay their respects.
Lastly, the Wellington Quarry on the last day was fascinating but also incredibly touching. The tour guide had informed us that this quarry dated back to the 13th century, to mine limestone for building, but was later rediscovered by the New Zealand miners as a way to ambush the Germans. This tour around the Quarry was filled with narrations through our headsets, with videos playing on screens or being projected onto the stone walls, and an enthusiastic tour guide who explained everything to us as we walked. All the videos were very interesting and informative, all counting down and leading to the battle of Arras, however the last projection was probably the most emotional. It depicted the shadows of the soldiers waiting as their captain counted down until the battle. You could hear the soldiers praying and breathing heavily as they were faced with this deathly challenge, and at the end they all ran to the light and it stopped.