On a cold and frosty morning in November, over 60 of our Year 9 History enthusiasts departed school at the very early hour of 4.00am, on their way to visit the Somme battledfields. After a good channel crossing, they arrived at their first destination; Vimy Ridge. The aim of this was to give some context to our later destinations by emphasising the nature of trench warfare and stalemate throughout 1915. The second destination was “a big hole” known as Lochnagar, which is essentially a vast crater left behind by one of the mines that signified the start of the battle and was indeed the phrase many students used upon seeing it for the first time. After this, they proceeded to Newfoundland Park where students were able to not only view, but also to walk around the battlefields of the Somme, seeing trenches, ravines, the remains of dug-outs and the ‘danger tree’.
Lastly, they visited the Thiepval Memorial where our Year 9s held their own memorial service to the 57,000 dead and wounded at the Somme. This was made all the more poignant by the 'Last Post' and 2 minute silence, followed by the pointing out of some of the names of East Grinstead’s finest on the memorial. Students were given time to place a small wooden cross on a grave of their choice before departing.