Emotional trip to battlefields

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A group of 50 students and staff explored the battlefields of World War One during a visit to Belgium and France.

The youngsters from Peele Community College, Long Sutton, used the recent school holidays to make the trip which first took them to Belgium before they crossed the border into France to see first hand the battlegrounds of the Somme.

While there they were able to experience the closeness of the lines and the horror which the soldiers faced when they had to leave their trenches to advance upon the German lines.

It was followed by a visit to Thiepvan Memorial, which bears the names of 72,000 soldiers who have no known grave.

One student said: “It was a very moving experience knowing that soldiers lost their lives for the country but also for us today.”

The Flanders Field Museum gave a detailed and informative account of the events around Ypres during the war and this set the students up well or their visit to Tyne Cot – the largest Commonwealth grave in the world.

The students were suitably moved by the sacrifice of the soldiers.

“I am overwhelmed and I realised how lucky I am to have the life I do today,” was the feeling described by one of the Year 9 students.

In the evening the students were able to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate, donated to them by the Long Sutton branch of the Royal British Legion.

Finally, the group visited Vimy Ridge, where thousands of Canadians died on the assault, which is now a huge memorial to the dead. They also were able to lay another wreath to show their respects.

A spokesman for the school said: “Overall the trip was thoroughly enjoyed by both students and staff and was summed up well by one Year 10 students who wrote ‘I thank those soldiers for giving me the life I have today’.”