School begins end of war commemorations
PUPILS and staff from St Bede’s Catholic High School in Ormskirk have begun their commemoration and remembrance of the centenary of the ending of WWI.
The school has gathered names of those killed in action from the local area.
These soldiers’ and sailors’ names have been written on poppies by pupils as an act of remembrance.
At the end of September, Mrs Roberts, the head of the history department, led a school trip which was powerful and emotional.
On the day before departure, students and staff gathered for a remembrance service, which was led by the school chaplain Clare Guidi, and the service included a poignant playing of Last Post by a Year 9 pupil.
The school trip was to the battlefield and cemeteries of Ypres Salient in Belgium and the battlefield of the Somme.
Pupils visited the Hooge Crater Museum and Sanctuary Wood (Hill 62 Museum) which included an exploration of the day to day life and conditions in the trench system.
The group also visited Langemark, the German cemetery in the area. Later in the day they visited Tyne Cot British Cemetery and memorial to those soldiers with no known grave.
At the Passchendaele Museum the group explored a newly reconstructed trench system representing some of the most accurate depictions of the trenches of the Great War.
The following day, visits were made to Vimy Ridge and then Lochnagar Crater at La Boisselle on the Somme battlefield.
Further sites on the Somme, such as Thiepval Memorial and the Newfoundland Park near Beaumont Hamel, were explored.
The day ended in a moving way at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, where pupils laid a wreath.
The last day focused on the medical developments during the war.
This included visits to Essex Farm Cemetery and Dressing Station and the cemeteries near to the World War One medical bases.
St Bede’s students were left very moved by the experience.
Rebecca from Year 10 said: “Tyne Cot was very impressive but also upsetting due to the amount of people who had died and were buried there.
“Vimy Ridge was great too; I found the memorial unbelievable, it was massive and is something I will always remember.
“Going into the underground tunnels and being where the soldiers worked was interesting as you could see where they once fought in those terrible conditions.
“The Menin Gate ceremony was very special and moving; Last Post being played was an incredible experience as I have never heard it being played with such respect and I will never forget it.”
Roksana from Year 10 said: “I have learnt so much over last weekend and I will be sure to incorporate it in my future GCSE history work.
“One of my favourite things that we did was visiting the Vimy Ridge.
“I loved this experience because I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The sculpture was amazing, and the view was simply overpowering.
“Moreover, it helped me understand the terrain the soldiers had to battle in, such as the small craters from the shells and artillery and the trench locations.”
Liam from Year 11 said: “During this trip I have learned a lot about WWI, it has been an amazing experience of everywhere we have visited.
“Everything I got to see was an eye opener for me. From little things like the bullets and shrapnel, to the bigger things like the cemeteries.
“Everything gets put into perspective when you get to see them yourself.
“I have never thought about how many people died during the First World War, but even seeing one cemetery has changed my perspective and made me gain more respect for each and every one of those soldiers, from the highest ranking, to the ones who didn’t even get named.”