A moving tour of the battlefields

TWO FORFAR Academy pupils have written a short piece about their recent trip to the battlefields in France and Belgium.

“From August 19 to 24 a group of pupils from S4 journeyed to France and Belgium for the annual history First World War Battlefield Tour. During the trip we went to many cemeteries, museums and battle sites that gave us a much fuller insight into World War One.

“After the bus journey to Dover and the ferry across to France we were straight into the tour. We went to Vimy Ridge and later visited French, British and German cemeteries.

“To see these cemeteries on the first day was incredibly striking. It was hard hitting to see how the German cemetery was kept in comparison to the others and to see the rows of graves in each of the cemeteries that seemed to be never ending.

“The next day we visited the Somme battlefield and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. It was frightening to see how many of the soldiers (73,000) were never identified and whose loved ones would never know where they lay.

“On the third day we went to Belgium, specifically Ypres. Here we visited the newly refurbished “In Flanders Fields” Museum.

“One of the most memorable places was the British Tyne Cot Cemetery. It was hard to comprehend that under each of those 11,000 white stones was a soldier who fought and died for his country in World War One.

“Before even seeing the sheer amount of graves a voice is heard at the entrance saying a name and age of a soldier who died for each day of the battle. Very moving.

“That evening the group attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres where four pupils laid a wreath on behalf of Forfar Academy. B

“Being there and seeing the large turnout made it hard to believe that they do this every night in memory of British soldiers.

“Also while in the area we visited other places such as Sanctuary Wood. Here we got to go into original trenches and tunnels.

“We also spent too much money in the Belgian Chocolate Shop in Ypres!”

“Overall the trip was an amazing experience that better helped us understand the impact of World War One. We are lucky to have experienced it.”

By Sarah King and Lisa Norrie, both S4