The Battlefields of World War 1

The Battlefields of World War 1

Staff and Students from Aspire have participated in an educational trip to the battlefields of Belgium and France as part of the First World War centenary celebrations. In an action-packed itinerary, links with other schools were established as they deepened their knowledge and understanding of sites of key WW1 battles and their significance within world history.

Day 1 – Belgium
This was an action-packed day, beginning with a visit to the Lijssenthoek Cemetery where students explored the role of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Next was the opportunity to experience the Memorial Museum at Passchendaele and learn about what life was like for the soldiers in the trenches. Students learned about the ‘dug-outs’ and about how the war affected the lives of ordinary people.

To conclude the day’s learning, the 8pm Ceremony of the Last Post at Menin Gate was a very moving experience as our students laid a wreath to remember those who died and have no known grave.

Day 2 – France
The day began with a visit to the Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial Park where students learned about the involvement of the Canadian Regiments in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The group then moved to Sunken Lane to see where the 1916 attack by the Lancashire Fusiliers took place.

Following lunch at Avril’s Tea Room, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery to explore what happened at the Battle of the Somme and the lessons learned from it.

Last, but not least, was the visit to Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Here are remembered the 72,337 missing British and South African servicemen who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918, with no known grave.

Day 3 – Belgium

On the final day, Langemark German War Cemetery was the first site of interest. Here lie the bodies of more than 44,000 soldiers, many of whom are unknown.

Saint George’s Memorial Church, Ypres, was the next stop. It was built to commemorate over 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops who had died in the three battles fought for the Ypres Salient during World War 1.

The final site visited was Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing which commemorates the names of 34,887 men from the United Kingdom and New Zealand Forces who died from the date of 16th August 1917 and who have no known grave.

This was a superb experience for staff and students alike, bringing into perspective the high price paid by so many to help shape the world that we live in today.