Clydeview Academy - Battlefields History Trip 2014

warfields 1At the end of August, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1, a group of Clydeview Academy 4th and 5th year pupils left Gourock to visit French and German battlefields. This is our report.

On our first day there we went to 'In Flanders Fields' museum. The museum had a lot to offer and we were given a poppy bracelet fitted with a microchip which allowed us to activate interactive points throughout the museum. It gave us a great understanding of the battles of Passchendaele. We then visited Essex farm cemetery and dressing station where we read 'In Flanders Fields', a poem written by John McCrae who was the surgeon in the area. The cemetery holds 1,200 service men who are buried there, the youngest being 15 years old.

warfields 2After that we visited Langemark German Cemetery where nearly 25,000 Germans are buried and saw The Mourning Soldiers, each one representing a different serviceman. One represents the army, another the navy, civilians and the air force. Their cemetery was also a lot darker as they had grey headstones instead of white. It was very sad to see what the effect was to the other side of ‘no man’s land’ and it made us realise it wasn't only our country who suffered.

We then visited Tyne Cot Cemetery. We had taken a few names from the Greenock Academy war memorial to locate them in the cemetery or on the memorial. It is very sad to think about the losses to our own community and the impact that it had on industries, schools and families. Our final visit for the day was to the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate where we laid a wreath to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

We started our second day with a visit to Loos Memorial where we remembered the Scottish soldiers who fell at the Battle of Loos 1915. We then went to see Vimy Ridge and the Canadian monument which was built on land France had given to Canada. The monument can be seen from miles away over the tree tops and was even larger when you were on site. Not too far away from the monument was Vimy Ridge where most of the Canadian troops were stationed and which has an original war trench which we were guided through.

We continued on to Thiepval memorial and cemetery to find more Greenock names of those who took part in the battle of the Somme 1st July 1916. Lastly we went to Newfoundland Park, another famous Canadian war site. This park features a caribou monument which represents the Canadian soldiers who had fought for their country.

On our final day we visited Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery which was in Poperinge. In this cemetery most of the graves were named, as Poperinge was a main casualty treatment centre.

Overall it was a memorable trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the First World War.

Heather Kilpatrick 4B

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