Students off to France to explore battlefields

By Tristan Harris Friday 20 June 2014 Updated: 20/06 10:50

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Buy photos » South Bromsgrove pupils Leah Fleetwood, 15, William Mullins, 15, Charlotte Beaumont and James Smith, both 14, are just some of the pupils off to Northern France. Picture by Marcus Mingins 2314016MMR

STUDENTS from South Bromsgrove High School will embark on a trip to the First World War battlefields in and around Ypres and The Somme, leaving today (Friday) and returning on Monday (June 23).

The visit for the 47-strong group from year ten comes after the pupils have been learning about the conflict as part of their history GCSE courses.

It will allow them to experience history outside the classroom and to gain a deeper understanding of the events and enormous loss of life that occurred between 1914 and 1918. And it will be particularly poignant this year with it being the centenary anniversary of the start of the war.

The students, who have been researching their own family histories to find out more about their ancestors who fought and fell in the conflict, will be leaving crosses of Remembrance on behalf of their families.

Among those going are Charlotte Beaument whose great great uncle fought at the Battle of the Somme – he was concussed by shellfire before going ‘over the top’ and died on the third day of the battle - July 3, 1916.

James Smith’s great great great uncle joined the British Army as a member of the ‘Birmingham Pals’ Regiment (the Royal Warwickshires). He fought and was killed during the Battle of the Somme.

And William Mullins had two great great uncles, Samuel and Alexander Dawes, who fought and were killed during two of the Battles of Ypres in 1915 and 1917.

Those students will also represent the school during the Last Post ceremony where they will lay a wreath at the Menin Gate memorial. That bears the name of more than 50,000 commonwealth soldiers who fought in the Ypres area who had no final resting place.

Headteacher Paul Topping said: “South Bromsgrove High has run visits to the battlefields for a number of years and hundreds of students have returned with an enhanced historical knowledge and an emotional connection with the human aspects of conflict. Teachers are always keen to promote research by students about war graves associated with their own extended family or the Bromsgrove area and, in 2014, this will form an important aspect of our school’s commemoration of the centenary year.“

The visit from South Bromsgrove High has been running annually since 1981.

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