Yateley Manor’s Year 7 and 8 pupils had an excellent, but very cold, trip to the First World War battlefields of Flanders as part of their cross curricular History, Art and English studies.
The action packed itinerary began with a visit to Ypres’ excellent In Flanders Fields Museum and a guided tour around some of the key sites of the Ypres Salient. These included the Dressing Station where John McCrae wrote ‘In Flanders Fields’, a restored trench system, a German cemetery and Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world. The group also visited Talbot House in Poperinghe and the graves of double VC hero Noel Chavasse and of Staff Nurse Nellie Spindler, one of only two female casualties of World War I to be buried in Belgium.
The children were very moved by the Last Post Ceremony at Ypres’ Menin Gate during which two of the children were able to lay a wreath, on behalf of the school, in memory of relatives who fell during the War.
As they wandered between the neat ranks of white headstones the children were awestruck by the sheer number of graves in the Commonwealth cemeteries. They paused by the graves of some of the youngest soldiers to die during the war, who at 15 years old, were only two years older than some of them.
The whole experience really helped them to understand the horror of the First World War and appreciate the huge sacrifice of a generation.