Third Year Visit to Historic Battlefields

Third Year Visit to Historic Battlefields

On Friday 7 October, the entire Third Year (139 pupils) arrived at Caterham at 4.30 in the morning for an unforgettable trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium! A seamless transition through Dover saw us board earlier shuttles than anticipated, which whizzed us under the channel in just 35 minutes. Blinking into the French dawn, our coaches lumbered into Belgium for our first stop at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. Surrounded by sunlight and the graves of around 10,000 fallen soldiers, we discussed the causes of the First World War and how the conflict originated. Next we headed into the centre of Ypres for a thoughtful sandwich atop the Menin Gate. This was truly mesmerising, with the names of nearly 55,000 soldiers whose graves are unknown. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for the ceremony that evening, which is carried out every single night of the year at 8.00pm. 

After a quick stop at the famous chocolate shops of Ypres, where we enjoyed delicious sweets, our next destination was the German cemetery at Langemark including the hidden ossuary. That site was followed by the Hooge Crater Museum where our wonderful tour guides gave us a brief on the weapons, kit, warfare, use of trenches and the daily routine of soldiers, as well as exploring a replica of a WW1 trench, giving an interesting yet saddening insight into life in the trenches. The interior of the Museum was made up of different objects from the war. To finish things off we had a ceremony to honour the Old Caterhamians who lost their lives fighting for their country and for our freedom. Each coach stopped at a different cemetery: Dozingham, Lijssenthoek, and Tyne Cot, to lay a wreath and commemorate an individual Caterhamian. The ceremony was truly a moment to take with us as a time of reflection, and some tears were shed as we paid our respects. 

And so, our busy day came to an end as we made our way back home via a turbulent ferry to arrive at school at nearly midnight, tired, but inspired by our trip. Thank you so much to all of the teachers, the History Department, and our wonderful guides, all of whom worked so hard to give us such a memorable experience.

Credit to Marusia E, Connie M and Sammy O (Third Year).


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