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Belgium Battlefields

On 13th February at 4am, Year 10 GCSE History students set off from Kettering on the long drive to Belgium, where they arrived at 12 noon. They enjoyed many activities but here are some of the highlights as expressed by a couple of the students who experienced the trip:

Lijssenthoek - a military cemetery for allied soldiers that were killed in the Ypres area. There are around 10,000 fallen soldiers buried in this cemetery which is the second biggest in Europe. Interestingly, it was designed to resemble an English country garden to make it comfortable for those laid to rest there. This was one of the most moving experiences on our trip.

Langemark - this experience was a great contrast to our previous visit. Langemark is a German cemetery where over 44,000 German soldiers were buried, yet there are only a few hundred headstones. There are an average of eight soldiers per grave with only their names inscribed on the headstone.

There is also a mass grave called 'Kameraden Grab' which holds 24,000 unnamed soldiers. This cemetery is shocking to stand in, with Germany's national tree - the Oak - planted throughout the cemetery, giving a shaded and sombre atmosphere.

The Last Post Ceremony - this was held at the Menin gate and was a truly humbling experience. To see the thousands and thousands of names carved into arching walls truly brought to light the soldiers who died for their country in World War One. It was a beautiful way to honour them, and has been conducted every night since World War One ended. 

The Canadian War Memorial - at Vimy Ridge is a huge stone statue which towers over the skyline of Vimy, France (near to Arras). On the sides of the monument are more than 11,000 names of Canadian soldiers who were killed and have no grave, many of whom died in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

This trip was filled with moving experiences and we have made some memories that we will never forget.

Ella Clarke (10W) & Georgia Garley (10W)