From Tuesday 6th November 2018 to Saturday 10th November 2018 25 students from Norham High School and Churchill Community College visited Ypres, Belgium to be a part of the First World War Centenary celebrations. Students stayed at the Peace Village located in Messines and throughout their stay were able to visit a number of sites, museums and ceremonies to help to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives during the Great War.
On Tuesday students travelled from Hull to Zeebrugge on an overnight ferry and used this opportunity to explore information about the First World War using the booklet which was provided to them.
On arriving in Ypres on Wednesday morning, following a slight delay on the ferry, we first visited Essex Farm Cemetery and Langemaark Cemetery so as we would be able to see first hand the cemetery where the fallen were laid to rest. It was sobering to find that in many cases there were a number of soldiers who were buried but were only recorded as ‘unknown’ as there had been no way of identifying their bodies.
On Thursday Churchill and Norham students were invited to the military burial of an Unknown Soldier which is set to be aired on national television in the summer of 2019 and students were given the opportunity to pay their respects to someone who died in the line of battle over 100 years ago. We were told by our guide, Simon, that still now a number of bodies are still found in Flanders Fields in Belgium and each of them still receives a proper burial. We then spent the remainder of the day visiting other important sites around Ypres before ending our day by attending the daily ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres town centre. The Menin Gate itself is a beautiful monument which has the names of approximately 55 000 soldiers who have not yet been laid to rest in their own graves. Again, four of our students laid a wreath which had been created by staff from our technology department here at Churchill Community College.
Friday was our final day in Belgium and, having left our accommodation, we travelled to the In Flanders Field museum before having some time to explore the town centre itself and, of course, visit some of the famous shops to buy some Belgian chocolate. Our journey home presented an opportunity to reflect upon what we had experienced throughout the week whilst also giving students an opportunity to rest after what had been a busy yet extremely rewarding week.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.