Day 4 - Monday 9th July - Bruges
With our First World War visit rapidly coming to an end our group took the opportunity to pay a cultural visit to Bruges. Students toured the city and visited the sublime Bruges Madonna sculpted by Michelangelo. This was followed by an opportunity to taste some of Belgium’s culinary highlights such as chocolate and waffles. A great way to round off a truly memorable experience.
Day 3 - Sunday 8th July - Arras and the Somme
Today we have journeyed into France to find out more about the epic battles of Arras and the Somme. At Wellington Quarry students descended below the city in glass lifts to discover the story of the New Zealand sappers and the extreme lengths they went to to surprise the Germans. All the students were in awe of the memorial to the missing of the Somme at Thiepval - for many a highlight of the visit so far. Newfoundland Park demonstrated the extent of the fighting and just how little land was won in those first few days of July 1916. Our last historical site of the day was the Lochnagar Crater, the best example of wartime destruction on the western front. When the mines were exploded in 1916 they were the loudest recorded manmade noise in history. As with so many of the sites, students were staggered by the scale. Our day ended with a visit to the beach by our hotel and of course a seaside ice cream!
Day 2 - Saturday 7th July - The Ypres Salient
Today students have considered the impact of total war by exploring key sites in the Belgian sector of the Western Front. Starting at Essex Farm, the group toured the remains of a dressing station as well as the legendary cemetery that inspired the poem ‘In Flanders’ Fields’. Volunteers at Talbot House were impressed by the level of historical discussion conducted by our students. The building’s quiet inclusiveness charmed us all. Later the German cemetery at Langemark and the British cemetery at Tyne Cot demonstrated the sheer scale of this, the most destructive of wars. At 8pm Oldbury Wells participated in the moving Last Post Ceremony. Megan and Dan were picked to represent us all for their enthusiasm and team approach to every activity. Congratulations both, you did us all proud! An emotional, inspiring and thought provoking day. Tomorrow the legendary Somme.......
Day 1 - Friday 6th July
A great start has been made to our World War I battlefields adventure. We made excellent time down to Dover and managed to get an earlier Ferry. Students enjoyed the stunning weather and the view of the white cliffs on deck as we waved goodbye to England for a few days. The hotel Sabot D’Or has made us feel very welcome and as Belgium watched the World Cup we spent some time on the glorious sandy beach. Fully charged we look forward to our first History day tomorrow.