We are now preparing to leave Disneyland for Calais. The students have had a lovely day.
We were all woken by the sound of Chris Earley’s voice at 6.30am! We began the day with a visit to Essex Farm where Ms Walter provided the group with another lecture, this time on dressing stations in the First World War. The students found the grave of the young 15 year old who died in battle and were suitably pensive as they could relate to his unnecessary death. Attempts to visit the Menin Gate were unfortunately thwarted by the fire brigade directing us away from the centre of Ypres.
We travelled on to Arras to visit the Wellington Quaries where 24,000 soldiers, including many from the Suffolk regiment, who hid for 8 days before surprising the Germans. This is always an interesting visit for the students who enjoy an audio-visual experience deep underground. Another popular destination is a trip to the adjacent supermarket where Mrs Potter bought the smelliest cheese possible whilst Mr Clarke bought a classic choice of cheese slices! After tackling the French self service check outs which challenged the limited French of our students and staff, we set off for Newfoundland Park.
Here Ms Walter again gave another brief lecture explaining this site along the Battle of the Somme. The students could clearly see the allied and German trenches. A short journey up the road took us to the Thiepval Memorial which remembers the names of 73,000 men, who have no known grave. After some searching, Kizzi Brame located the name of her ancestor, Lance Sergeant Frank Stanley Brame. Once back on the coach we began the long journey round Paris to our hotel. We are now sat in the hotel ‘library’ enjoying well earned refreshments. The students should sleep well tonight in preparation for Disneyland tomorrow!
After a very civilised start at 6.30am with every member of the party in possession of a passport, we departed for Belgium. As we arrived in Ypres the sun shone as we explored the re-built market square. Thereafter, students visited Flanders Field museum before departing for the battlefields through the Menin Gate.
We arrived at Hill 60 and made our way through the trenches. The students enjoyed the opportunity to walk through the original trenches with many jumping over the shell holes! We moved on to visit Tyne Cot, the largest British war cemetery in the world with almost 12,000 graves. Many students searched through the cemetery registers to locate their surnames. After the peaceful marble cemetery full of roses and country flowers, we moved on to Langemark which was a stark contrast to the atmosphere of Tyne Cot.
History completed for the day, we travelled into Ypres for chicken and chips. We are now resting at the hotel ready to explore the Somme tomorrow.
We have arrived safely in Belgium. Students are now exploring Ypres before heading back to the hotel this evening. A more detailed post will follow this evening.