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Today is our last day of our trip. It has been immense. Fordy’s money pouch was the highlight of it all. You can’t forget Roberts and her R jumper. Miss McComb taking selfies with us. It was really touching seeing all the graves. We thought overall this trip was amazing and we would definitely do it all again. Many thanks to all the teachers.

~Niamh and Eloise


Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this blog and to all those, staff and students, who have helped make the trip such a success. A fuller set of photos can be found here: LINK

Some of the Group at Bayernwald

Some of the Group at Bayernwald

Bayernwald German Trenches - Messines

Bayernwald German Trenches – Messines

Day 3 has been so much fun so far! We have been able to really connect with the soldiers and the conditions they had live in. We have just come back from the preserved trenches at Messines Ridge. We got to experience what it was like for soldiers in the trenches. We have also learnt a lot, like how far they actually dug the mines shafts (90 feet!) and the building materials they used. It was incredible to experience the trenches in that way. It was much more relatable going to the trenches than just seeing them in a picture. This morning we also visited the ‘Pool Of Peace’ which was a crater caused by the explosives used to blow up the German trenches. The whole crater, that went 90ft deep, was filled with water because of the high water table in this area. It was truly beautiful, with trees all around the edge and lily pads covering the pool. However the effects of the crater its self is a lot more sinister, and we learnt a lot from that. Both of these were well worth the visit.

~Amrita, Alice and Lissie

Newfoundland Park

Newfoundland Park

Bayernwald German Trenches - Messines

Bayernwald German Trenches – Messines


Today we got up quite early and had a nice breakfast. Although there wasn’t very much choice, it was nice not having a hot breakfast everyday! When we finished having breakfast we packed up out stuff, cleared our rooms and made our way back onto the coaches ready for another day of visiting some more cemeteries. After a couple of cemeteries we visited a German trench that we could walk around and explore. When it came to lunch we drove to a Ypres and had some free time in little groups of our friends, and wandered round to buy some presents for back home with our money. Then we visited a few more cemeteries before catching our boat home.


Messines Ridge

Messines Ridge


Today we got up at 5:30 a bit too early – which wasn’t as bad as yesterday. We had a broken sleep, but at least the showers were hot. Breakfast was good, although it wasn’t even close to the amazing ferry food!
We visited a few small memorial yards which were good, and some people found possible ancestors and took some time near their graves. We also visited a place that looked suspiciously like a pond but was in fact the place of the largest man made explosion of the time, it was heard in London! Many soldiers were killed, and some even killed from the sound waves their actual bodies were fully intact. The explosion created a massive crater (approx 80-90′ deep). We then went to some preserved trenches and had a little exploring trip around them, we found bunkers and some of us ventured into them. The final place we visited today was the biggest British war memorial in the world! It was massive! The sheer size of it put everything into perspective, it was immense! 2/3 of the whole place had unnamed soldiers and the read ‘a soldier of the great war’ some had their division but not all. It made us feel like little specs in history, we will never have the bravery and spirit of these men, they stuck it out through all the odds but unfortunately they are no longer with us to share there experiences with us. But we still look up to them. And behalf of everyone we’d like to say a big thank you to all the staff that made this trip possible, it has been a real eye-opener!

~Rachel & Kate

Bayernwald German Trenches - Messines

Bayernwald German Trenches – Messines

Tyne Cot Cemetery - Ypres

Tyne Cot Cemetery – Ypres


Yesterday we saw and experienced so much! First of all we visited a cemetery, we discovered there were 800 memorial stones (800 deaths) and we were surprised to find that the cemetery was considered small compared to others around France and Belgium. It was shocking to see that over half of the stones had no known name, as the body has not been found/ been identified. We really enjoyed visiting Newfoundland park, it was very interesting to walk in the trenches, we felt empathetic towards the soldiers. The trenches were cramped when we were there, to imagine what it was like during The Great War was an eye-opener. Towards the end of the day we visited a memorial dedicated to all lost soldiers, there was a huge monument which had all the soldiers names inscribed on it, there was many more than we had anticipated. It was fascinating to find our surnames written on the monument, some people even found their full names e,g J Thomson. We found many Henry’s and Rennie’s, it was amazing to find a connection between us and the lost soldiers. It was a truly memorable experience and one we will cherish for the rest of our lives!

~Beth & Ashleigh

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme


When we arrived off the ferry yesterday it was freezing in Belgium, but we got on the road and it was really nice to just watch the scenery. Arriving at the first cemetery was pretty hard hitting, especially seeing Andrew’s relatives. It was classed as a pretty small cemetery and there were at least 700 soldiers there. I think this made us all realise the extent of the war and casualties. It was really interesting to be taught about the trenches, and that we were standing where soldiers fought nearly 100 years ago. The missing soldiers memorial was also very emotional for us all because seeing all the names, and even our names had a big impact especially because these people weren’t found. I found it really nice that we got to drive through where the ANZACs fought and stop at Mouquet farm because that’s a big part of my country’s history, and it was a personal thing to also see that. It’s really different learning about WW1 than actually being where it happened, it puts everything in perspective and makes everything we’ve learnt easier to understand. The hotel was really nice, and dinner was good, back on the road today up to Belgium for the rest of the day and then to the Ferry.


Mouquet Farm ANZAC Memorial - Somme

Mouquet Farm ANZAC Memorial – Somme


We arrived in Belgium at 8:30 it was raining a lot we got soaked running to the bus then a 2 hour bus ride to France first we went to a small cemetery but it was probably the sadist because we had never seen so many graves before then we laid a wreath to remember Andrew’s relative. We knew how many people died but had never seen that many graves before, it really hit home with us at this point. But I think the sadist moment of the day was going to the grave memorial of the un-named at Thiepval, which is a tower of 4 pillars of stone and a brown roof. It is covered in names of the missing in the battle of the Somme. Nearly everyone found someone with their name. There were 10 books to catalog all of the names there. We also went to see Donald Bell’s grave (V.C). We left a wreath and then had a minute of silence.


Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Donald Bell's Grave - Gordon Dump Cemetery

Donald Bell’s Grave – Gordon Dump Cemetery

Some of the students’ comments from the morning of Day 2 ~Mr F

Today has been a wonderful experience,rainy and cold but completely worth it! The ferry and coach journey is such a laugh (bare bants) [is that a real term? Mr F]. The first cemetery we visited just now was very pretty and touching. I found it quite upsetting and shocking that most of the graves said ‘known unto God’. A totally different experience from Katie and Lauryn’s dancing the previous evening at the disco on the ferry. I think both students and teachers are still trying to get over it. I’m having so much fun and can’t wait for the rest of trip!


Cafe Culture?

Cafe Culture?

This trip has been really worth it so far! We began with the ferry which, although rocky, was great fun. We then drove to the first cemetery where we stopped to have a look around. It was hard. The cemetery was in very good condition which showed how much people cared. I found it very hard-hitting as the graves only represented a small percentage of all the deaths and it put into scale the full horrors of the war. It was very upsetting when it showed unknown graves and I thought how awful it would be to be unknown to the world after giving up so much. It really highlighted how amazing some people are and that aside from all the negatives we hear about today there are always those who will risk all they have to protect others. It has really touched me.



Andrew’s Relative’s Grave – Somme Region

It’s hard to explain, to be honest. You’re just so overwhelmed by everything, and it hits you hard. We’ve all learnt about these things in school but seeing the aftermath, firsthand, and how many people that the countries lost is incredibly sad. It was an amazing experience though – we visited graves of people we were related to and in the missing soldiers memorial we found people with same last names as us, which made it even more real. There was a chance we were related to some of these people, and the fact that they are lost in the battlefields is hard to deal with. It has been an absolutely wonderful experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I’ve had so much fun so far and it’s put everything into perspective for us.


Newfoundland Park - Somme

Newfoundland Park – Somme

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Afternoon all,

We have just returned from the Year 9 Battlefields Trip. Despite the weather, students seem to have enjoyed themselves and learnt a lot at the same time. The next few blog posts have been written by the students from Coach 1. More updates from Coach 2 to follow!!


At Donald Bell’s Grave


The Year 9 battlefields trip is here again. 83 HGS students and 10 staff are off to Ypres and the Somme to explore the impact of the First World War. We have a number of family sites to visit so keep reading for updates from the students as we go around.

Mr F

Sent from your iPad

I did mention this on the trip but thought I’d post it again here too!


‘Impressions of Lochnagar’


An annual competition for young people aged between 11-17 yrs designed to
encourage interest in this unique Great War Memorial.

Entries for the £200 award can be in any medium
including Art, Prose, Poetry, Photography or Music.

This Prize is sponsored by Mike and Frances Speakman in memory of their daughter Angela.

The prize of £200 will be divided equally between two age groups:

11 – 14 years   &   15 – 17 years

Please contact us through this e-mail address 
on how to submit your entries to the competition.
The cut-off date for receiving entries for 2012 will be October 1st.




During day 3 we visited a range of sites around the Ypres Salient including: Messines Ridge, Bayernwald Trenches, Hooge Crater Cemetery and the Menin Gate. Sadly Coach 1 did not get time to visit Essex Farm or Langemark German Cemetery due to the number of students with relatives to visit. However we were able to stop at some of these closer cemeteries and memorials to and this was a very powerful experience. All the students made a real effort to be part of these personal visits, conducting their own memorial ceremonies at the sites. They have been a real credit to the school. Here are some final thoughts for you.

Mr Ford



Hello everyone. Today we have been all over. We started off in France and now in Belgium. We saw German trenches but they have been altered slightly because they got rewind and they are from the 1st WW. Then we went on to Chester Farm cemetery to see my great, great grandad’s grave. It was really emotional. I am the first person to see the grave from my family,so it make it extra special. We then went on to see more war grave yards. One of which is where Alex Taylor’s grate uncles grave stone was. Finally we went on to see a massive war grave yard (Tyne Cott). It was truly shocking how many graves there were.- Carla Addyman


Tired 😦 but good day 😀 loving the Belgian chocolate : D



Also tired and had a good day, laid down a wreath for my relative and it was pretty good 🙂   


This trip has been very successful and highly interesting, as I have learnt things I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t come on this trip. It has been a great experience, big shout out to Mr Ford for making this happen:) Chris Petty


Hi there my name is Will and this trip for me has been a real success. The trip itself was really good i think it was a really great experience. The tour guide was good and the way he described things made me see the battle fields how the soldiers of WW1 saw it. The best bit for me was when we went to see the massive crater because for me that was a real eye opener and shows what devastation war can cause. Also a big shout out to my main men Hakan, Chris, Ed, Susanna,Louisa and don’t forget Mike and Henry, they come as a pair. 


When we arrived, I didn’t really know what to expect. Although Belgium and France looked and felt the same as England it had a sort of peaceful atmosphere. However, as our Tour Guide/ Historian began to explain what brutal conflicts took place I found it hard to believe  and could almost picture where and how the trenches were laid out. I also thought it was good to be able to go round to different cemeteries and pay respects to some relatives of students. Altogether I have really enjoyed this experience .D.F.


I had a good trip. I had lots of fun and learnt a lot more about the first world war. I also got to see where my great uncle is buried. This trip has helped me to understand how many people died .A.T.


We had a really good trip and lots of fun, it was also interesting to see/learn about the places, I think we have all really enjoyed it.-Martha


Great trip. Lots of travelling but well worth it. I was surprised to hear about and see the scale of devastation and death that happened in ww1. It was also good to pay respects to other peoples own relatives and hear about their own stories too. Matt M



Some more thoughts from Year 9. During day 2 we visited sites around the Somme region of France including the Thievaal Memorial, Gordon Dump Cemetary (where Donald Bell VC is buried) and Lochnagar Crater to name but a few. We also made a detour to visit the grave of Ellie Short’s relative en route. 

Mr Ford



I’ve enjoyed the trip so far, the ferry was the best bit. It was sad to see all the graves but I learnt a lot. Going to Ypres today, and then going back home on the ferry.

Lucy x


This trip has been really good. I got to see my great,great uncle Arthur Burn’s grave. It was really nice to see it and it was very moving. Also I got given a poppy wreath to lay on his grave which was sweet. This trip has been amazing and is definitely worth going on 🙂



I’ve really liked the trip so far. The ferry was really good and the graves were really interesting.



This trip has been lots of fun and our guide is very knowledgable. I have learnt a lot and has made me think. I am looking forward for the rest of the day!

Inez 🙂



I’m really enjoying this trip, the ferry was a lot of fun and seeing all the cemetery’s was really interesting. It’s been really interesting to see where all the trenches were and how it would have looked through a soldiers eyes. It’s been very powerful but enjoyable. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the day!





This trip has been really good so far and I’m really enjoying it! I Hate boats and I went on one but it wasn’t that bad! Yesterday was really good because when we went to see the cemeteries it came to life how many people actually died! I’m excited for the rest of the trip and I have learnt a lot!

Sophia 🙂


I have really enjoyed the trip so far and I have learnt a lot. Yesterday was really good and I thought it was really good when we went to see Ellie Short’s relative at one of the graveyards.  I’m looking forward to today and seeing more. I’m also looking forward to the ferry tomorrow. The weather has been quite nice and sunny:)

Abby x


The trip has been really good and it’s been really interesting learning about the cemeteries and memorials and the ferry was fun. It’s been good weather so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip:)




Welcome to the HGS Battlefields Tour 2012. I have asked the students to write small blog posts as we have gone around this year. I hope you enjoy reading their thoughts as they progress through the trip. 

Mr Ford

Pictures HERE



Ferry was really fun ( would have rather gone on a plane ) food was quite nice. Just been to service station and think that food is quite pricey! But anyway great trip, weather great and looking forward to today and tomorrow. Chloe.L xx


Hello 🙂 The ferry trip was really fun, and it was a nice trip to Belgium, I am looking forward to the rest of the trip to the battlefields. Sophie xxx


Hi! I enjoyed the ferry ( don’t listen to chloe ). So far I’ve enjoyed the scenery on the way to the Somme on the bus and look forward to the rest of the stops. Having lots of fun and the weather is great, so far. 😉 Georgie R


Hello! I have really enjoyed the trip so far and the ferry was great! The talk about the Somme was very interesting because I learnt lots of new things that I didn’t know before. Belgium and France are very pretty and the weather is good! Hannah


Hello, the ferry was amazing (my first time on a boat) but made me feel sick…and I had coffee from costa and it was so nice. We are just arriving at the somme, we have been on the coach for 2hours now-.- oh well,hope I will get to see my great great grandads grave too. It was fun sitting next to Max Adams on the coach. Love from Carla 🙂