Calderstones battlefields trip to Belgium

Pupils from Calderstones School recently attended a battlefields trip to Belgium.

The 32 pupils had a bright and early start as they made their way to Belgium and Ypres. Having picked up their tour guide their first stop was to Langemark Germany Cemetery.

Keith Leadbetter, who organised the trip, said: “This cemetery is so different to the British cemeteries as they are mainly black gravestones on the floor and these are simply mass graves.

“Indeed Hitler visited the site during World War II and we saw pictures of him stood exactly where we were which was surreal for pupils and staff alike.

“We also visited Tyne Cot Military Cemetery where there are 11,856 tombstones along with 35,000 soldiers names of where their bodies are unknown.

“Additionally, a visit to the Passchendaele Museum gave pupils the opportunity to visit a bunker system, see the trenches for themselves and we were extremely fortunate that there was a re-enactment taking place to mark the 100 years and pupils were spoken to by German, British and Romanian Military.”

Saturday night also saw the pupils visit the Menin Gate were every night since 1928, the Last Post has sounded at 8pm meaning that the pupils took part in the 31,708 remembrance ceremony at this site.

Pupils Eva Fentiman, Ryan Hughes and Gabriel Santer were selected to represent the school and were a part of the ceremony with over 3,000 people gathered to watch.

On Sunday, having visited several cemeteries the pupils ended their visit at the Thiepval Memorial. This memorial is dedicated to those who lost their life and were never found in the Battle of the Somme 1916.

Keith said: “There are in excess of 72,000 names on the memorial. As a group I read out Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est to pupils and we observed a minutes silence before having some reflective time.

“We also visited a chocolate shop in Ypres where pupils most definitely helped keep a shop in business for another year.

“The pupils who went were absolutely outstanding and a credit to the school, gaining compliments throughout from members of the public and tour guides”.

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