WW1 experience at Ypres

In the early hours of a Friday morning, a group of 37 students and staff left Ark William Parker to visit Ypres for 3 days. This was a joint History and Religious Studies trip to explore the WW1 Battlefields and explore concepts of peace in Religious Studies.

On the first day, the group travelled to Belgium and visited Lijssenthoek Cemetery and Langemark Cemetery. They went on to the Memorial Museum at Passchendaele where students walked through a replica trench and experienced what it would have been like for the young men at war.

They attended the ceremony of the Last Post at the Menin Gate where the current Head Boy and another Year 11 student, dressed in full school uniform, laid the wreath that had been situated at the school memorial for those lost during WW1 from Ark William Parker.

The next stop was a visit to the local chocolate shop – no visit to Belgium can be done without visiting the ‘Leonidas’ chocolate shop.

After a busy day the group checked into Ypres Lodge; at this point they were incredibly hungry and thoroughly enjoyed an evening meal of chicken and chips!

On the second day the group travelled to the Somme for a full day itinerary.  They visited Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial Park and Sheffield Memorial Park where the Pals memorial is situated. This greatly affected the students as they realised that these groups of young men, friends like they are, went off together to fight the war - many of whom did not return. They also visited Thiepval Memorial, Ulster Memorial Tower, Thiepval Wood, Mill Road Cemetery Lochnagar Crater, Delville Wood and Canadian Memorial in Vimy Ridge.

In the evening the group enjoyed a meal of Spaghetti Bolognese in Ypres and returned to their hotel for games of pool. Each night the boys challenged their teacher, Mr Stinson, with not much success on their part – leaving them wondering if they had been hustled!

On the final day, check-out time was very busy at the hotel with everyone ensuring rooms were emptied, beds cleaned and all belonging packed up. On the way home, the return trip included an interactive visit to Flanders Museum where each student received a wrist band that allowed them to access the materials of different exhibits and a visit to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest of all the cemeteries where even today they are still laying bodies to rest.

Student Toby said "This was an interesting trip and it has made me enthusiastic about studying history further – I hope to go on the Krakow trip."

Jack said "I was able to find two graves that are linked to my family this was important to remember the lost, but even more so as it was a family member."

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