Students Represent the Academy to visit World War One battlefield sites
Kyle (Merrell) and Liam (Knight) and Mr Kent, History, Teacher, met early on Sunday morning to travel to Belgium and France with students and teachers representing schools and Academies from across the east of England. The reason for this adventure was to visit the World War One battlefield sites, commemorate the centenary of The Great War and to learn more about what The Western Front was really like for the men and women who served there a century ago.
The trip was run and funded by the government and the UCL Institute of Education; the first night was spent at the Kingswood Centre in Ashford. Here the boys prepared for their time away with team building activities to help them get to know their new companions. They also examined a range of archaeological artefacts from the battlefields themselves – including bombs (grenades), shells and bayonets as a taster of things to come.
The following morning all set off bright and early for the channel tunnel. At this stage the party were joined by experts in the history of the sites that were to be visited and serving members of the British Army, ranging from corporals to a Major. Over the next 3 days they provided fascinating insights into life on the western front during World War One and into how life in the British Army compares to this today.
Every day in Belgium in France was packed with activities, visiting cemeteries and battlefield sites from the Somme and Ypres areas, where the party heard the moving life stories of several men and women who served and lost their lives in these awful battles. The accounts were based on original letters and testimonies produced by the fallen which really helped to emphasise that each headstone represented an individual person with their own story. Students were also able to research local men who had been killed and find their places of rest.
One of the highlights was the visit to the Menim Gate to take part in The Last Post Ceremony to commemorate the missing of Ypres. Liam had the honour of placing a wreath on behalf of the party, which he did with great dignity.
The Kyle and Liam also had the opportunity to use World War One and modern day military equipment and to take part in a programme where young people from around Europe are producing 600,000 pieces of commemorative pottery; one for each casualty of the battles of Ypres .
Liam and Kyle made the most of every fantastic opportunity that was available to them on this memorable expedition. They participated enthusiastically in all activities, asked insightful questions of the experts and made new friends with students from around the country. They were excellent ambassadors for our Academy and Mr Kent reported that it was a real pleasure to accompany them.