During a cold and wintery half term, the History Department travelled to Ypres and the Somme for a real World War I experience.
After a depressingly early start and a very pleasant ferry crossing, the 39 Year 10 boys soon found themselves in the centre of Ypres, a town which suffered intense bombing throughout WWI and the place that would be our base for two nights. We visited some of the local sites of interest including the Essex Farm Cemetery where John McCrae wrote his famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.
The second day was spent in amongst the snow and ice at the sites of the Battle of the Somme where we experienced the biting cold and unpleasant weather that must have made those days and nights in the trenches seem even longer. The boys visited the largest war memorial in the world at Thiepval, with over 74,000 names to the missing on. This was followed by a visit to Lochnagar crater, created by over 66,000 tonnes of ammonal and supposedly creating a blast that rattled tea cups back in London.
This intense day was followed by a hearty night’s chocolate shopping and a visit to the Menin Gate Last post ceremony which has taken place every evening since July 1927. The final day was spent in the trenches around the Ypres Salient, including the very muddy ones on the Menin Road and at Sanctuary Wood, an area defended by our very own Leicestershire Regiment.
A frenetic 72 hours saw us back into Loughborough rather late but in fantastic spirits. The Year 10 boys provided fantastic company for this intense trip and were a pleasure to take on this very moving trip.