Students on last weekend’s annual expedition to the trenches of Flanders and the Somme visited the well-preserved and very moving sites of Vimy Ridge, Delville Wood, Newfoundland Park, La Boiselle, Tynecot, Langemark, Sanctuary Wood and the Menin Gate.
In addition to seeing the places where many Allied troops fought and died, the students were able to empathise with the horrors of the Western Front by exploring the damp trenches and tunnels at Sanctuary Wood. The Removes were able to gain an understanding of the magnitude of the sacrifice when they visited Tynecot and Langemark. The difficulties of the terrain were seen most clearly at Vimy Ridge and Newfoundland Park.
This year we began what will become a regular ritual by laying a wreath at the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval in memory of former pupils of the Imperial Service College who lost their lives, some of whom would have been listed on the walls around the assembled Haileybury party.
The Second Master, Robert Turnbull, led a ceremony that included a poem (‘In Flanders’ Fields’), a reading from ‘Birdsong’ and a minute’s silence.
The whole trip was a very useful experience for all the students as it ties in with the History and English Departments’ study of the First World War this term.