Students from Camborne Science and International Academy have played a part in marking the Centenary year of WWI having returned from a five-day tour of the First World War battlefields.
Seventy one students accompanied by seven teachers embarkede on the trip which left "a lasting impact on everyone involved".
“This was a fantastic learning experience for our students. They were able to gain historical knowledge of the conflict...and empathise with the loss of a generation of men from so many countries across the World. It was an immensely significant trip” said Kelen Jones, the school's acting head of history and trip co-ordinator.
Students had a jam-packed trip right from the offset, with planned visits to enhance their understanding of the impact of the conflict on the landscape and on those affected. From visiting Bernard’s Farm in Northern France - the site of the Christmas Day truce and football match that took place in 1914 - to walking across No Man’s Land searching for artifacts.
Students also visited two cemeteries on the Ypres Salient in Belgium - Tyne Cot and Langemark - where together some 50,000 soldiers are buried and, at Tyne Cot, 30,000 more named as missing.
“Several students were able to find the names of ancestors they had researched before coming on the tour, a powerful indicator of how they were connected to this past conflict” said Kelen. “It was a very poignant part of our trip which they will never forget.”
Students experienced a little part of what it was like to be stationed in a First World War trench, having to avoid deep shell craters which look just a few inches deep, alongside a visit to The Somme; the site of the costliest battle in the history of the British Armed Forces.
“We began with some context; a visit to the Thiepval Memorial for the missing, where some 70,000 names are listed. It dominated the landscape as a painful reminder of the death and destruction we were following in the footsteps of” said Kelen.
"Students even came across a hand grenade and unexploded artillery shell, needless to say, these were left alone!” added Kelen.
Further visits were made to Newfoundland Park, the infamous Tommy Cafe and Vimy Ridge Memorial.
The final part of the trip saw students visit the city of Ypres, ‘In Flanders Fields’ Museum and witness the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate where over 50,000 ‘missing soldiers’ are commemorated.
“The students found this a very moving ceremony to watch. The coach was quiet on the way back to our hotel as students reflected on a physically and emotionally exhausting few days” said Kelen.
Ian Kenworthy, Principal at CSIA, said “We have a duty to educate future generations about the First World War...the loss to this country and to countless families was unimaginable and must never be forgotten. That is why it is so important that a new generation should be encouraged to remember the sacrifice of so many.”
The students returned from their trip on Monday 17th February and will be applying their knowledge of the impact of the First World War to their studies of post-war International Relations, in preparation for their exams in May.
Student Rachel Nettle said “Overall the trip was an amazing experience. It has helped me to understand how families must have felt sending their loved ones of to war. I really enjoyed visiting Bernard’s Farm and the old town of Ypres.”