21st November 2016
Day Two - The students and Miss Jones were up at 7am for breakfast before starting the 5 hour journey to Belgium.
Their first experience in Begium was the Lijssenthoek Cemetery.
During the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations. The cemetery was first used by the French 15th Hopital D'Evacuation and in June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces.
The cemetery contains 9,901 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 24 being unidentified. There are 883 war graves of other nationalities, mostly French and German, 11 of these are unidentified. There is 1 Non World War burial here.
Before they left for their trip the boys researched soldiers who had been laid to rest within each of the cemetery's that they will be visiting. Within their research they learnt about Donald McLeod Snaddon, a Private from the Royal Scots Fusiliers, at the age of 15 he is the youngest soldier to have been buried here - he was only a few months older than our boys are now.
and Neille Splinter - The only Woman to be buried in this Cemetery.
Later in the afternoon the tour moved to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele. The museum is located in an environment that was a major battlefield in the First World War and which has since been rebuilt.
The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 presents the historic story of the First World War in a poignant and vivid way, with a particular emphasis on the Battle of Passchendaele. This battle in 1917 is known as one of the most horrific battles from the First World War, with more than half-a-million casualties for a territorial gain of merely eight kilometres.
The museum section provides an overview of the five battles of Ypres, including the Battle of Passchendaele. Using historical objects, authentic letters, posters and other documents, uniforms of the various armies and video clips etc. both young and old get an insight into how life must have been on and around the battlefields. The interactive elements throughout the entire museum collection ensure that children become acquainted with this piece of history in an interesting way.
The boys experienced life in a dug-out - a small taste of the miserable and claustrophobic living conditions at that time.
Within the museum the boys had an opportunity to try some of the clothes and feel the weight of the equipment that the soldiers had to carry with them at all times.
Finally they visited the reconstructed German and British Trenches. In the November weather they could begin to get a feel for the cold and miserable conditions that they would have lived with day in and day out.
Finally at the end of a long day the boys attended the ceremony of the last post at the Menin Gate.
Every evening since 1928 the Last Post has been played under the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper at 8 o'clock sharp and this is an incredibly emotive and solemn experience.
The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient.
It is incredibly humbling to stand and look at the names of the 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.
What an amazing day learning so many things and creating memories that will last a lifetime.