Accompanied by Mr Washington, Amelia Smith and Emelia Meade travelled to a series of significant historical sites, culminating in a visit to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest British and Commonwealth War Cemetery. 11,956 soldiers are buried at Tyne Cot, and the names of a further 34,927 missing soldiers are recorded.
Part of the trip involved researching soldiers from Congleton and the surrounding area. The students found a commemoration for Private Daniel Turnock, a member of the Cheshire Regiment who lived on Canal Street, Congleton. Turnock was killed on 21st October 1916, and he is commemorated at the magnificent Thiepval Memorial, an area that played host to some of the fiercest fighting of the Battle of the Somme. The students also found a commemoration for Corporal Jim Wood from Congleton who served in the Lancashire Fusiliers and is remembered at the Tyne Cot Cemetery.
As well as visiting other key sites such as Newfoundland Memorial Park, Lijssenthoek Cemetery and the German Cemetery at Langemark, we also witnessed the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate. At 8pm every evening since 1928 the Ceremony has been conducted to remember the 54,406 soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Menin Gate.
Reflecting on the trip, Emelia Meade said: “This trip has been an exciting but informative way to learn about the First World War. Visiting the different memorials and cemeteries really opened my eyes as to how many people were killed, and gave me an idea of how the families of these soldiers felt losing their loved ones. It was overwhelming thinking about the fact that people from my home town had been sent to European countries and died there. I felt connected to those who lost their lives by standing where they died and were buried, and i got a lot from these four days.”
Fellow Year 10 student Amelia Smith added: “This trip gave me a chance to learn about the First World War first hand, rather than just by being in a classroom. It led to me being able to see and learn about all of the different memorials and some of the brave soldiers who earned medals such as the Victoria Cross, the Military Cross and much more. Despite the cold weather we all had a good time.”
The trip was not only a fantastic historical experience, but deepened our understanding of the world. Mr Washington added: “This was a truly outstanding experience that we will long remember. As we near the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, there has never been a more important time to preserve the memory of those who gave their lives fighting for their country. The girls were an absolute credit to the school and we will use our experiences to benefit the understanding of others within the school and community.”