Bright and early on 15 October a group of budding Year 9 historians attended the battlefields trip to France and Belgium. After a slightly delayed start we were on our way to the Channel Tunnel, and arrived in France just in time for Lunch. Our first stop was to the grave of a past Tormead teacher’s sweetheart, named Captain S.W. Burditt, where Mr Breslin provided us with a heartfelt account of their love letters written to each other whilst Captain Burditt was fighting on the front line.
Next, the girls had the opportunity to go into the trenches and investigate what life was like for soldiers in the British and German army. One lucky historian was dressed in uniform whilst our tour guides, Bill and Beth, explained the equipment soldiers were provided with. Out of the trenches and back onto the coach, we travelled to Tyne Cot Cemetery where we were treated to a story about a student’s relative who was commemorated there. In the evening we journeyed into Ypres for chocolate shops, dinner and an emotional Last Post ceremony.
Another early morning and we were back on the coach to visit the site of the Battle of the Somme and in particular stand in the Sunken Lane. Continuing our focus on the Battle of the Somme we ventured to Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial site, where the trench systems have been preserved, bringing the events of the battle to life with the girls being able to see where the Canadian soldiers would have stood. Following an emotional morning, our tour guides gave us a session on gas masks and their advancement throughout the war, with students getting to try them out, providing some entertaining photo opportunities for the girls.
Back out to the battlefields we arrived at the site of Lochnagar Crater, where the girls learnt some of the mining techniques used during the war to explode enemy sites. As luck would have it the heavens opened when we arrived at Thiepval, the final stop on our Battlefields tour. Under the shelter of the memorial, the girls scoured the memorial books to find relatives’ names of those missing from the Battle of the Somme.
Following a jam-packed weekend we made our way back to Tormead, loaded with knowledge, chocolate and some amazing memories. Overall it was a massively successful weekend, with thanks to our amazing tour guides, the very well organised Dr. Carrel and the rest of the Tormead team.
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