Girls visit Battlefields of World War One

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In this term’s 'Donaldson Week' the UIV (Year 9) visited the Battlefields of World War One in Northern France and Belgium. Over the course of three days, they went to a number of different, important cemeteries and memorials to gain a better understanding of the events and impact of this monumental war.

After an early start on the Monday, we spent the day in Belgium. There, we started off at Hyde Park Corner Cemetery, discussing the causes of the Great War, the youth of some of the soldiers and looked at men who had achieved the Victoria Cross. We also touched upon military discipline in the Great War, the role of Courts Martial, as well as punishment and executions. Following this, we visited Spanbroekmolen Crater, which gave the girls an opportunity to see the impact of mining warfare.

After a brief stop for chocolate shopping, we visited the largest British and Commonwealth War Grave in the world, Tyne Cot. The girls then had a chance to see the polar opposite to the white headstones of Tyne Cot when we visited the German war cemetery of Langemarck.

Over the next two days, we visited a number of memorials in France around Arras; here we focused on the final push of 1918. We visited the cemetery of Vis-en-Artois, where Mrs Handy told the students about one of her relatives who is remembered on the wall there, having died one month before the end of World War One.

The students got to visit the French cemetery of Notre Dame de Lorette, as well as walk around some preserved French trenches. After visiting the poignant memorial to the Canadian dead at Vimy Ridge, the students were then able to go down into Wellington Quarry under Arras, which was used in mining warfare. The tour finished with stops at Villers-Bretonneux Australian National Memorial and le Hamel, where the tide of the war began to turn against Germany.

We did have the opportunity for some lighter moments on what is quite a sombre trip - in addition to the chocolate shopping, the girls also enjoyed bowling on the second day of the trip.

It was a very busy three days for the girls, to round off their History studies of World War One.

Mrs Samantha Handy, Head of History and Politics