St Mary's History trip – The Somme

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As an introduction to their GCSE History syllabus.  Year nine have been studying the First World War.  To get a real idea of what it was like in the trenches the year visited the Somme battlefields on Friday 25th March.

A day trip to the Somme is quite a daunting prospect with a departure time of 6.a.m.! Everything went very smoothly and the students were investigating the Vimy Ridge battle site by early afternoon.  Here the trenches have been preserved with cement sandbags replacing the real thing.  The students were surprised by the depth of the mine craters and the closeness of the ‘enemy’ lines.

The school party then took a slight detour to visit Cabaret Rouge War Cemetery, where Jack Lynch visited the grave of his great, great uncle who died on the Somme at the age of 35.  This was a very emotional moment.

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We then pushed on to Beaumont-Hamel – a scene of vicious fighting on the 1st July 1916.  Mr. Richardson gave a talk to the students before they proceeded with their fieldwork.  The students soon began to realise why huge casualties had been sustained that day. (Newfoundland Regiment – 86% casualties).

More field work in of the cemeteries, showed that the average age of the fallen soldiers was 21-22 years.

After inspecting the German defence system we made our way back to the coach.  It was gone 6.0’clock before the students ate a hot meal at CIF Europe.  The only hitch in the travel plans was when Eurostar ‘lost’ a train so we had to catch the 9.50 p.m. rather than the 9.20 p.m.  Still we all arrived back at school safe, sound and tired, just past midnight.  A long day, but worth it. !