In support of their Year 9 studies at Seaford College and to prepare them for studies at GCSE, 38 Year 9 students have completed a thrilling trip to the battlefields of Ypres and the Somme. Students were able to appreciate first hand the nature of trench warfare and the extraordinarily limited gains of many of the famous battles which they have studied. At one site, pupils were shown the gains by the Newfoundland regiments on the first day of the battle of the Somme. A small tree about 150 meters marked their progress from the front line trenches.
Pupils were also struck with the number of casualties as they visited graveyards such as Tyne Cot with seemingly unlimited lists of names. In order to gain some connection with those who had lost their lives, pupils were encouraged to look for names that were the same or similar to theirs. One student who had come prepared even found a direct relative in the British cemetery of Thiepval. The contrast in the way that events are remembered was also stark as pupils looked at a German cemetery and the somber mood of defeat. Similarities and differences were examined in the way in which we should remember war and pupils gained an understanding, which was otherwise unavailable in the classroom. The feeling of the tunnels under Vimy Ridge used to dig mines in place for an attack in 1917 were also an experience which will be well remembered and brought home the experience of young men who fought almost 100 years ago.
A visit to the V2 rocket site from the Second World War helped the group to make connections with this latest conflict and also the Holocaust since many Jews and Prisoners of War were used to construct the site. Many of these pupils will have a great insight into their studies in Year 10 by understanding the experience of 1914-18 as well as other aspects of their course.
The teachers were very impressed with the maturity and behavior of those who came and very much look forward to teaching them in Year 10. It is also hoped that many will choose to come on the proposed Year 10 trip to Berlin next summer!