My name is Rebecca and I was chosen along with another student Declan to go on the First World War centenary battlefield tour program organised by the Department for Education. The whole trip was 4 days long starting off in Ashford Kingswood centre for team activities so we were able to get to know the other student from the other schools in Manchester. Activities ranged from team tasks such as the Jacobs ladder and the leap of faith to tasks for each individual school groups for example looking for any soldiers that were from the local area. We found a soldier who was named M. Leah who was from Droylsden we later found his name at Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial.
Through the next few days we visited many educational sites such as Flanders Field Museum where I learnt personal stories from soldiers with different backgrounds and you could see the letters they had sent home or received along with family photos. We also went to many different Cemeteries for example Lijssenthoek in Ypres, The Thiepval Memorial to the missing which holds the names of over 72,000 names of British and South African men who died on the Somme battlefields and have no know graves. As well as visiting British and their allies’ cemeteries we also went to the German Langemark Cemetery that contains more than 32,000 bodies. Also on the last morning we went to Tyne Cot Cemetery Memorial which is the largest British and Commonwealth War Cemetery in the world.
We didn’t just visit cemeteries, we also went to museums, the Menin Gate, to real battlegrounds and trenches. Memorial Museum Passchendaele had reconstructed trenches and underground bunkers that you could walk around and it showed the terrible conditions that the soldiers would have to deal with. On the first night in Belgium we went to the Menin Gate ceremony where two students from Manchester, one of which was fellow Droylsden Academy student, Declan, put down a reef with a message on to all the soldiers who fought in the World War. One last site we visited was the Lochnagar Crater where the British set off 27 tonnes of explosives to try and help attack the Germans, in the whole event only 28 men died.