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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Taking the school to Belgium


stephen p nunn
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Dear friends,

I have been asked to accompany a local secondary school on a trip to Belgium. I thought I might mention to them some of the local men (from our own town) commemorated on the war memorials that we are to visit. It looks like the visit will take us to the following places:

Tyne Cot

Essex Farm Cemetery (and hospital)

Langemarck

Ypres museum and Menin Gate

Apart from my idea about the local men, any other suggestions about how I might approach this with the pupils?

Many thanks, in advance, for your advice.

Regards.

SPN

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You could check which units recruited in your area, and read up on their part in the fighting in the Salient. There will be plenty of regimental or divisional material available to cover at least some local regiments. Work back from the Long Long Trail to check which local battalions served there.

Keith

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Perhaps you could download copies of some poignant (aren't they all) poetry for the students to mull over before travelling and ask them what they believe they will see. You may get some ideas from their responses

Diane

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all good ideas, i always use local casualities ect and local rgiments. This is what i di for a living, if you want pm me about it. how old are the pupils, boys or girls or mixed? what have they done on the war in the class? how have the teachers approached the subject. can you fit what you are seeing with the ciriculiam? are they doing material on haig? where do you stand? can you be impartial and give a balanced view? are the pupils gpoing to know and carre what a battalion/division is? local casualities ect ar awa y to bring things home, poetry yes, have you any artifacte you can take? things that they can see/feel or bring into schol beforehand? are you going to do anthing in the school before?

i could go on, but as i said pm me if you want more information or ideas

mat

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Tell the "kids" to look at the period relative to-day---1914--school leaving age 12. Only men allowed to vote at beginning of the war--woman over 30 from 1918. Summer time introduced for first time. Pub opening time changed during the period.. Etc,Etc.

Wesley Wright

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Another approach might be to view/photograph any local memorial near the school and see the names listed and link this in with the CWGC website to see who is remembered where. Its almost certain there will be a name on the Menin Gate or Tyne Cot.

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SPN

If you told us where your school is located or if your profile was filled in some of us could be more helpful. Too many replies involve major research. This is what you do....

1.See if names from any local war memorial are on the web.

2. If not take digi photos to get your list

3. Look up names individually on CWGC for the Menin Gate and/or the back wall of Tyne Cot. Select a small number - choose ones which give an address

OR

Use Soldiers Died and search for Place of residence only and type it in. Print out. Use this list to keep checking against CWGC until Menin Gate and Tyne Cot names are found.

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Hi Maldon

Difficult to be very helpful without knowing ages and genders of pupils - I don't even know for sure where you are based ... but my initial response is that you approach the trip "very carefully", presumably you'll be covered by the school's insurance, etc.

However, boys may be within a couple of years of some of those whose graves they will see and girls may be old enough to comprehend a world where there was a great shortage of partners: even if they have no direct family connections this might affect some of them more deeply than they might imagine.

I'd take the precaution of talking to the members of staff who teach them history and/or any related subjects to check the slant they take - consciously or unconsciously. In similar circumstances I know I'd have to keep many of my views to myself!!!! I assume that someone will brief them as to the significance of the location of the Menin Gate memorial and the "Last Post" etc.

Observing school parties at various cemeteries and memorials it has been obvious that many of them were looking for the names of relatives and being helped in their search by friends who had no direct connection. Does the school have a war memorial of any sort to supply names?

Hope this is of some help.

David

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Dear friends,

I have been asked to accompany a local secondary school on a trip to Belgium. I thought I might mention to them some of the local men (from our own town) commemorated on the war memorials that we are to visit. It looks like the visit will take us to the following places:

Tyne Cot

Essex Farm Cemetery (and hospital)

Langemarck

Ypres museum and Menin Gate

Apart from my idea about the local men, any other suggestions about how I might approach this with the pupils?

Many thanks, in advance, for your advice.

Regards.

SPN

Thanks to everyone who responded to this - some great ideas which I am currently working on. The pupils are secondary age and I have produced a synopsis for each of the sites we are visiting along with details of local men (from our war memorial) who are remembered as giving their lives in the locality of Ypres. I am looking forward to the visit and to listening to the students views and thoughts about the Great War.

Best regards.

SPN.

Maldon.

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  • 1 month later...

Actually took the students out to Flanders yesterday - fantastic day, one of those days which restores your faith in the young and the continued importance of the huge sacrifice that was the Great War. We left home at 5am went round the museum at Ypres first; then let them get muddy at Sanctuary Wood (I wasn't quite sure about that bit); then laid a wreath at Tyne Cot (tears over ancestors but absolutely brilliant behaviour and belief on their part); then Languemark (and thoughts about the enemy v young men just like ours); then Essex Farm and a reading of 'Flanders Fields'; back to Ypres for drinks, chocolate and ice cream. Home by 9.15am. I'll never forget it - I hope that they won't.

Thanks to all Forum members who gave me the ideas.

SPN

Maldon

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Guest KevinEndon

In memory of Lance-Corporal William Edward (Ted) Last (12446) Essex Regiment (2nd Battalion) a Maldon lad who didn't come home (KIA Arras 28/3/1918)

TODAY is the anninersary of the death of the chap in your signature, can you give us more info on him please, Maldon,

Kevin

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In memory of Lance-Corporal William Edward (Ted) Last (12446) Essex Regiment (2nd Battalion) a Maldon lad who didn't come home (KIA Arras 28/3/1918)

TODAY is the anninersary of the death of the chap in your signature, can you give us more info on him please, Maldon,

Kevin

Thanks Kevin - good of you to remember him. He was a member of my mother's family. Ted was actually born in Thetford, moved to Maldon with his family at a very young age, they lived in Gate Street and he then joined the Essex Regiment. He first served in France on 30/5/1915 (probably with the 9th). He was wounded (probably at Loos) in October 1915 and again on 19/11/15. A further wound and gassing followed and he then transfered to the 2nd. On the morning of 28/3/18 he was with the 2nd holding the front line of the near Arras. He was wounded, picked up on a stretcher and then the stretcher was hit. He is remembered on the Arras memorial. His medals, 'photo and obituary notice hang on my wall at home and I am very proud of him. He was 20.

Regards

SPN

Maldon

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Well done, Maldon. It sounds like an excellent expedition, properly carried out by all concerned. It restores faith after . . .

D

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  • 11 months later...

Following the success of last year (due in no small part to help and advice from you) I am off to Belgium again with three coaches from the school (on 26/3/10). We will include Ypres and Sanctuary Wood again. We will also lay a wreath to the 7 brave Maldon lads remembered at Tyne Cot and go to remember the German lads at Langemarck (including the two British names there (Privates Carlill and Lockley).

The newspaper is interested in it all this year and it is a great way to promote history, remember the contribution of locals during the Great War and does a lot to boost belief in our current youngsters who care very much about all of this.

Regards.

SPN

Maldon

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Hi Maldon,

Congratulations for last year and I particularly enjoyed your line about restoring your faith in the young. As a teacher, it is my experience that the great majority of students enjoy these trips and the impact on them is quietly profound. The visit will certainly have left its mark upon students and a significant number will talk about it in the years to come. A few will visit the Western Front again and perhaps again and again!

One of the problems with current teaching is the need to constantly demonstrate outcomes and learning. Most of the best trips I have organised and been on have been left to themselves in terms of the response of students/adults to the experience. Some very clever work can be done, for example through personal and local ties, if the time is allocated before and after a visit but for most students simply being on the battlefields and in the cemeteries is enough. We may not detect the impact at the time (and I know that both when teaching and guiding there is an anxiety to observe an immediate impact in students and adult alike) but it does occur. You, the expert, just being there and talking makes a huge difference.

Last October, I, my dad, girlfiriend and friend stumbled to the Welsh Memorial at Mametz Wood. As we did a coach pulled up and out trooped a large number of Welsh schoolchildren and a few adults. They, and we, were given a superb and informative talk by their teacher. As they filed away, one boy shyly remained and asked the teacher about the trench system in Mametz Wood. Within that one question the entire trip was demonstrated to be worthwhile.

Regards,

Stephen Garnett

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I wish my school did a trip to the Western Front. We do what we can with a Virtual Memorial in the Learning Centre and I maintain a webpage on the school website which I update each year

http://www.kingsdownschool.co.uk/remembrance.asp

I also run a quiz for students but it's not quite the same as a trip to witness the environment of WW1.

The History Dept are just doing the Somme and Haig at the moment. They do their best but don't have quite the same enthusiasm and interest about remembering the sacrifice of WW1.

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Thanks Stephen and Johnny - great words and support from you both. I am doing some preparation work today and your thoughts are really helpful. I'll post a report after the visit.

All the best.

SPN

Maldon

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Bought a large artifical poppy at the garden centre today and will add a note to it about all the Maldon lads at Tyne Cot and take it there as part of the trip.

Regards.

SPN

Maldon

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A further example of restoring the faith in the young.....

In my room in the hotel in Ypres last evening, when there was a polite knock on the door. In came one of the pupils I was guiding. He just wanted to say thanks for the trip which he was enjoying.

Over the next half hour, he was followed by four more polite knocks on the door, and more gratitude.

I asked the staff if they knew about this, and was assured that it was nothing of their doing, but just the pupils acting on the own accord.

It produced a rosy glow.....and more faith in the young.

Bruce

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A further example of restoring the faith in the young.....

In my room in the hotel in Ypres last evening, when there was a polite knock on the door. In came one of the pupils I was guiding. He just wanted to say thanks for the trip which he was enjoying.

Over the next half hour, he was followed by four more polite knocks on the door, and more gratitude.

I asked the staff if they knew about this, and was assured that it was nothing of their doing, but just the pupils acting on the own accord.

It produced a rosy glow.....and more faith in the young.

Bruce

Great stuff Bruce. Last year some of the pupils were in tears when we laid poppies at Tyne Cot. I then made sure they had some time in Ypres to buy ice cream and chocolate (the coach driver wasn't impressed!).

Regards.

SPN

Maldon

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I am sorry, but I do not have a lot of faith in the young or, rather, those in charge of them. Doubtless this is coloured by the behaviour mentioned below and I DON'T want to disparage the very many Pals and their pupils who spend so much of their time explaining to the new generation what happened. They do a marvellous job.

Consider the following at Langemark German Cemetery. A group of some 30 14-16's, (M&F), on an organised school visit from the UK.

1/3 were phoning/texting, mainly females

1/3 were using the horizontal grave markers as jumping stones.

1/3 were actually interested and respectful.

All volume measurements approx. you understand.

When I approached one of the so-called adults said to be in charge to protest about the 1/3 who were using the grave markers as jumping stones the response I got, believe it or not was 'we can't do anything; this is what their parents let them do'

I do hope that if any of this party are members of this Forum, they perhaps could respond to let me know why this had taken place.

Martin

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Thankfully no party that I have ever taken to langemark has ever behaved like that.

Had they done so, regardless of the teachers, the whole lot would have been back on the coach in moments, and got a length of my tongue.

It may then result in the school sending in a complaint, but i would like to think that I'd be backed up by the boss.

Bruce

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More good sense from Bruce. Seconded. I would have done the same. Could Burlington have done more himself? At the Menin Gate earlier this year (I was fortunate enough to do the Exhortation) there were four British girls a few yards behind me who were laughing and giggling most of the way through the ceremony. At the end to get back to my own well behaved group I ducked under the rope and looked straight at them and told them they were a disgrace to our country. But then is this the same problem? Bruce and I always brief groups before the ceremony.

Thankfully no party that I have ever taken to langemark has ever behaved like that.

Had they done so, regardless of the teachers, the whole lot would have been back on the coach in moments, and got a length of my tongue.

It may then result in the school sending in a complaint, but i would like to think that I'd be backed up by the boss.

Bruce

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