Well, we made it. What an incredible journey. although we only spent half a day on the battlefields today, we certainly packed a lot in. We began with a visit to the German cemetery at Langemark. The children we instantly struck by the contrast of the site to that of the CWGC cemeteries. They identified many of the features of the cemeteries, including the horizontal head stones, the comrades grave, the lack of regiment details or personal family inscriptions on the stones. Historically many of the children see these sites as 'different', however, amazingly, many of the children were able to draw on their experience at Notre Dame de Lorrett and suggested that in fact, there are many similarities between how the Germans and French nations chose to remember their war dead. Some even suggested that maybe it was the British who were 'different'. After a visit to the Passchendaele Museum where the children ventured underground into the deep bunkers and out into both German and British trench systems, we concluded our tour at the Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial; the largest CWGC cite in the world. Here each pupil was given the name and details of a soldier, with whom many shared their name, and they were give time to go and find their solider and pay their respects. Many chose to lay a cross of remembrance. Our guide Simon was spoken to by one of the cemetery interns who complemented him on how well behaved, respectful and engaged the children were in their learning. Standing at the cross of sacrifice, you can see the entirety of the battlefields of the Ypres Salient - and standing there, many of the children felt the impact of their journey of these past 4 day.
I would like to conclude my blog tonight with a big thank you to both the children and to the parents for their support of this trip. I have received many positive comments from the children about how much they enjoyed this trip, not because it was 'fun' but because they learned so much and felt inspired by and connected to their experience. Many thanks