Year 11 history pupils mark centenary by visiting WWI battlefields across Europe

A group of history pupils in Year 11 marked the Centenary of World War I by visiting various historic World War I battlefields in Belgium and France over three days as part of their work towards their iGCSE qualification.

The group began their trip in the town of Ypres, situated towards the coast of Belgium, which was held by the allied troops during the war. The group also visited Somme and the Vimy Ridge trenches in France, which was notably the most important battlefield to the Canadian troops.

In Ypres, the pupils learned of the significance of the town during the First World War, where 185,000 allied soldiers died over the course of three major battles there from 1914-17. The group also visited the Menin Gate, a stone arch that bears the names of 54,000 missing soldiers who have no known grave, and they attended an evening service at the Menin Gate, where they paid their respects to the fallen soldiers with a poppy wreath.

Over the course of the three days, the pupils visited multiple cemeteries, including Essex Farm and Tyne Cot in the Ypres salient. Tyne Cot Cemetery is the resting place of 11,954 commonwealth soldiers, and is the largest commonwealth cemetery in the world. The group also visited two German cemeteries, an Indian cemetery and two Canadian memorial sites, all of which gave them an insight into the extent of the death toll of the war by all who were part of it.

Overall, the trip helped the pupils to understand the context of the battles of World War I, as the pupils could picture where every event happened and how the terrain would have effected general’s decisions throughout the war. The pupils ended their visit with a sense of immense gratitude for the 10 million soldiers’ sacrifices during the First World War.