On 19th October, 40 intrepid pupils set off for the triennial French / History Battlefields Trip. We were delighted to be joined by Mme Haddow and were fortunate to have fabulous weather throughout the trip. Mrs Rowland had planned a full programme of visits including, on the first day, Poperinge with its contrasting Talbot House (a refuge for soldiers behind the lines founded by two Anglican chaplains) followed by the execution post and cells! We then visited Sanctuary Wood with its preserved trench system and museum of artefacts, Essex Farm Cemetery where John McCrae was inspired to write In Flanders Fields and finally Ypres. We attended The Last Post Ceremony which was packed and very moving. Three of our pupils (Olivia, Benjy and Sophie) placed a wreath on behalf of the school and the kindness of our pupils as a whole, towards members of the public, was commented on.
On the Saturday we headed south for Vimy Ridge with its beautiful monument to the Canadians and then on to Arras to the impressive Wellington Tunnel system. In the afternoon we visited the key sites of the Somme – Lochnagar Crater, Newfoundland Park preserved battlefield and finally Thiepval. After a delicious supper which included snail tasting, Mme Haddow kept us entertained with a challenging French Quiz.
On our final day it was back to the Ypres battlefields with visits to the hugely contrasting cemeteries of Langemark (German) and Tyne Cot (Commonwealth), the Passchendaele Museum and finally some chocolate shopping.
Throughout the trip there were commentaries in both English and French from Mrs Rowland and Mme Haddow respectively, poetry readings by our pupils and opportunities for personal pilgrimages to discover graves and memorials of family members. The pupils coped well with the long days, were respectful and thoughtful in the spirit of such a trip and it was good to see the strong sense of community amongst and across the three year groups; Years 9, 10 and 11.