On Monday 17th October the UIV and six members of staff set off to the World War One battlefields of Flanders and the Somme. On arrival in Belgium, we went to the Ypres area, where we visited Lijssenthoek – a commonwealth war grave cemetery, Bayernwald – a German trench system and Tyne Cot –the largest commonwealth cemetery in the world. While travelling, our tour guides, Julian and Alan, would give us detailed background information about what happened in each area, including accounts of individuals who had fought and died during the War. They also gave us the chance to ask lots of questions and to make observations. Following Tyne Cot, we visited the Menin Gate, before heading into Ypres for chocolate shopping.

On Tuesday morning we headed to the Somme area; visiting a French military cemetery - Serre-Hébuterne and a walk around some of the battlefields to the Sunken Lane and the site of the Hawthorn Ridge mine. After lunch, there was a presentation about weaponry and equipment during the war, followed by a visit to the Fricourt German cemetery in the rain. Later we stopped at a memorial for welsh troops, where we were interested to learn about an unexploded shell that had been found earlier that week. Afterwards, we proceeded to Mansel Copse, a Devonshire regiment cemetery, and then to the Lochnagar crater – 100m wide and 30m deep – to finish off the day before dinner and bowling.

Despite Wednesday being our final day, we still had many places to visit before we headed home. In the morning, we went to Danzig alley, a slightly smaller commonwealth cemetery, Bazentin ridge, and the 36th Ulster division memorial. In the afternoon, we visited Delville wood - a South African War memorial, and stopped outside Pozieres (another smaller commonwealth cemetery), before going on to our final destination, Thiepval. At Thiepval we were given crosses of remembrance to lay at one of the gravestones. A wreath was also placed underneath the name of Father Jonathan’s great grandfather, Arthur Carpenter.

It was an outstanding trip, and despite some bad weather, it was an extremely diverse and enjoyable experience, which greatly enhanced our learning and understanding of The Great War.

Annabel (UIV Form)