Before February half term the History Department took 75 Year 10 students to France and Belgium for the annual First World War Battlefields tour. Year 10 are currently studying ‘The Impact of War on Britain’ and this trip was a real opportunity to understand the significance and impact of this war. Visiting the memorials and cemeteries was a truly moving experience and allowed the students to put into perspective the sacrifices that were made in the pursuit of peace. It was certainly an experience that they will never forget. Students reflect on the trip below.
Cliona Macleod :On the trip we visited lots of memorials, cemeteries, trenches and museums. Along the way I learnt so much- I learnt about the lives of people, the wars, the loss and the impact that it has on us. I enjoyed all of it but the thing I enjoyed most was visiting the memorial in Ypres. It was very emotional standing in the exact place where 100 years ago people were fighting for their lives and our country.
Martha Bowden: I enjoyed the whole trip from the moment we got on the coach to the moment we had to step off and say goodbye to our coach driver. I think the best cemetery was Tyne Cot as you can never really understand how many lives were lost until you step foot in this cemetery.
Caoimhe Miller: On the trip we visited a memorial dedicated to all the men whos bodies were never recovered- this was called Thiepval. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. The trip taught me a lot of things about how soldiers lived in treacherous conditions. We were able to visit a town in Belgium called Ypres- here we visited the Flanders Field museum and saw uncovered items such as old weaponry, uniforms and every day essentials such as toothbrushes, hair brushes and first aid kits. I would highly recommend this trip as you get to experience incredible things and make memories.
Rosie Bird: My favourite place we visited on the history trip was Ypres in Belgium because the museum was amazing, it really helped me to understand that real people were involved and affected which made it all seem more personal. Ypres is also a beautiful city that was completely rebuilt to look exactly the same as it was before the war so all the buildings and churches look like intricate works of art. Also the Belgium waffles are out of this world!
Josie Carruthers: On the trip we visited different places related to the war across France and Belgium. We visited different museums, memorials and places where 100 years ago the war was fought. My favourite day was when we went to the museum in Ypres and we went to the chocolate shop. I learnt a lot about the war and it was very interesting. It has impacted on my lessons because it will make me more enthusiastic to learn about the war and I think that is why the trip is important.
Orla Gunner: I think the history trip was important because it really opens your eyes to what it must have been like in the war. Being in the location makes it seem more realistic- far better than sitting in a classroom just looking at pictures. It was great going to the towns which had supplied the soldiers and to see how they keep the historical parts alive. The museums were also very good because they had a lot of guns and clothing which had been preserved. My favourite part was walking in the trenches and the underground tunnels.
Charlotte Barnes: This trip was important because it makes you realise the size of the war and the amount of civilian lives affected by it. The best part of the trip was the chocolate shopping and walking round the trenches. It makes you consider the lives lost for your freedom today.
Bronte Moore: You got to go into the Wellington tunnels that the New Zealanders connected to all the other tunnels and they found pickaxes that were left there. There were empty cans of food that they collected from all around that were so the soldiers were reminded of home. We went to the German cemetery and there were only two rows out of maybe 30 rows of graves that were actually known, the rest were unknown.
Emma Mallet: The trip was very inspiring as you get to understand the full extent of the amount of deaths there were in the war. It was emotional as many graves were unidentified and that made you feel so sorry for all of them and so grateful for what we have
Anya Kilburn Thompson: The trip was amazing and very emotional. I don't think you realise how many people died fighting for our country until you are actually there looking at the thousands of white grave stones staring back at you. I learnt a lot on the trip and it was extremely interesting. I think it is important for everyone to go and see the memorials, as if it wasn't for the soldiers we wouldn't be here today. From the trip I understand a lot more about the devastation of war and the millions of people that risked their lives for us.
Georgia Roberts: The trip really makes you understand the amount of people who died in the war. Even at the smallest cemetery there were a lot of people. It makes you question if we are living the lives that they would have died hoping that we would live. And if you compare this with the terrorist wars and all the problems that are going on today our problems aren't as bad. One of the main things that I felt was how grateful you become towards the people that we didn't know and to the unknown soldiers who were all real people who had their own lives.
Millie Edlin: I enjoyed going to Vimy Ridge the most because I thought that it was very interesting to see the trenches and how the landscape had changed due to the battles that had been fought there.
Dominic Hawes: I learnt about 3 major battles, what happened and why they were important to world war one. I enjoyed the whole trip. I think it was important as it now makes me think more about what life was like during world war one, and it really made me realise the scale of the conflict.
Leuan Kidd: It was fun and interesting to find out in more detail about the trenches and see all the memorials. All the memorials were amazing and very interesting. It is a great trip to go on.
Daisy Cohen-Ford: I enjoyed the trip because I got to see many incredible and touching WW1 memorials and experience what it actually was like to be in a trench. However my favourite part was visiting Ypres in Belgium and seeing the beautiful buildings and scenery. Overall I would recommend future year 10 History students to take the opportunity to experience this amazing trip.
Dublin, the UNESCO city of literature, is not only the home of great writers such as Oscar Wilde, it is also a vibrant hub of music with live music and bands being such a key part of what the city has to offer. The city has produced such musicians as Bono, the lead singer of U2, and Sinéad O’Connor. So, it only made sense for the Music Department trip for 2015 to make its way to this wonderful city.
During the week, we took part in two concerts – the first in Saint Anne’s Church in Dublin itself and the second in the Tramway Theatre in Blessington just outside of Dublin. Saint Anne’s Church is known as the baptismal place of the Irish writer Oscar Wilde and the church at which the famous philanthropist, Thomas Barnardo, attended Sunday school. Though the audience was few, the acoustics in the church lent themselves well to the music and the whole concert was overall very enjoyable.
The second concert, in the theatre, was in co-ordination with a local youth amateur dramatics company who shared the concert with us. The whole night was very successful, with wonderful performances not only from our own band but also some excellent musical numbers from the talented young people of the local dramatics company. We even joined forces for the final number of the night – “One Day More” from Les Miserables.
The rest of the week was an interesting combination of excursions in and around Dublin. The County Wicklow Gaol in County Wicklow was a step back in time, where we could learn all about the system of punishing offenders throughout Irish history and the ordeals the had to endure. In the Dublin wax work museum, we came face-to-face with many historical figures and childhood favourites ranging from Queen Elizabeth I to Harry Potter. The evening walking tour of Dublin, though perhaps dampened a bit by the rain, continued our tuition in the history of Ireland. We explored the Viking traditions, paganism and turbulent rollercoaster that was the Irish political system.
The week was great fun. We all learnt so much and gained valuable experience in the live performance of music. It was a wonderful week full of superb memories that will stay with us.
Charlotte Coole Yr 13