Whitby High School

Battlefields Tour 11-14th March 2004

France - Vimy Ridge, Peronne and Somme Tour - Saturday 13th March

Travel Logs

Thanks to Chris Green and Ian Durrans (Year 12) of the Web Team who provided this account as well as some of the photos on this site

Travel Logs

Day 1: Thursday 11th March

After being whisked away from the warmth of our beds at 6 o'clock in the morning, we made the long awaited departure for France and Belgium. With no other events than nodding heads and a few stifled yawns we made it to Dover, via a service station for anybody who hadn't quite eaten enough breakfast, where we made the crossing, waving bye to the white cliffs whilst eagerly awaiting the sight of the port of Calais in the distance.

On arrival at Calais we moved swiftly onto the bus and completed the final leg of our journey, to the Chateau. With nothing more to do than eat the remainder of our sweets and look on to what there was in the days to come we soon arrived, with just a couple of minutes to look at our new rooms and fight over sleeping arrangements before dinner was served. With full stomachs and sleepy heads, we were informed about Friday's arrangements and breakfast times before being given the opportunity to use the games room, or turn in for the night, with the majority opting for the latter!

Day Two: Friday 12th March

It was an early start today but nobody seemed to mind after a rather relaxing night previously and everybody was raring to go, to get started properly with the trip. We were on our way to a town called Ypres and after a bit of confusion among the pupils Mr. Royden cleared up the fact that it was Belgium we were in and not France on his on-board microphone. We arrived in Ypres and could not believe some of the sites after what we had read in the information booklets. During world war one the town had apparently been destroyed to just six foot high and everything had to be rebuilt.

We visited the 'In Flanders Field' museum and followed the story of the person that we had 'adopted' at each computer in the museum. We all learnt a valuable lesson about the destruction and devastation during World War One. It was unbelievable. After a very exciting lunch on the coach, we invited a tour guide on-board (who happened to be a history teacher from a high school in Ypres) and he showed us around some of the biggest graveyards and battle fields of the First World War. Everybody was amazed at the sheer loss of life from the war and the extremely poor conditions that the soldiers suffered. During the rest of the afternoon we visited such places as Tyne Cot Cemetery which was the biggest world war one cemetery. When we stepped of the coach, we were astounded at the amount of graves.

In the early evening we had free time to go shopping which most people enjoyed along with a meal at a restaurant with a free drink! After the meal, the whole group went to the Menin Gate to watch the Last Post being played by the fire service of Ypres. It was a moment that most people will never forget; with our very own Laura Worthington making a very emotional citation to the spectators a the Menin Gate.

We arrived back at the Chateau at about half past nine and had an hour in the games room before going to bed after a thoroughly enjoyable day but everybody slept rather well!

Day 3: Saturday 13th March

With that 7 o'clock start still startling most people's systems after the late previous night, we set off again at the intended time of 8:45 a.m. We departed then to the Somme area, one of the bloodiest and most sought over pieces of land during WWI. In this area we saw the Vimy Ridge memorial, to commemorate the Canadian troops that took part in the war and their dead, not just at Vimy Ridge but for the whole of WWI. The signs requesting silence were not needed as we beheld the memorial in awe, that shows the true suffering, as well as glory, that comes with not only this war but every war.

This mood was soon broken as we headed down to some of the few preserved trenches on the Western Front, and were able to walk through and explore for ourselves. We moved onto the Guards Cemetery, where Lauren found a second relation who died there. Peronne Museum was next followed by the Theipval Memorial, which commemorates around 70,000 soldiers unaccounted - missing, never returned. Here there was a search for a cousin of of Mr Royden's, plus a look at the disciplined layout of the graves of the unknown soldiers.

The Newfoundland Canadian memorial to their war dead at Beaumont Hamel was next, where extensive trench systems still litter the landscape, together with surrounding cemeteries. It was here that the Hawthorn Ridge mine was set off which began the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

A few miles along the country lane which headed back north, and still following the trench line, Mr Royden was able to stop at another small isolated cemetery of Buocquoy Road where he could pay his respects to his great grandfather who died near the Somme in March 1918.

We were then able to make our way back to base, and prepare for the long awaited disco and quiz, won by the outstanding 'Who Cares' team who walked away with the grand prize of an Easter egg between them. The rest of the night was spent boogieing away to the tunes provided by the students, and off to bed for the last day.

Day four: Sunday 14th March

After another exciting breakfast at the chateau we made our way onto the coach to travel to Boulogne. After buying plenty of chocolate and goodies for the journwey home we drove up to Calais and had a little tour of the town before catching the ferry. The ferry was fun on the way home; especially for the sixth formers, as they were lying in the wind on the top deck apart from poor Sophie who was not feeling too well, but she felt better when she got outside!

We had quite a long drive when we got back to England but it did not seem to last that long at all. After a final farewell to Duncan the Driver at Knutsford services we made the final leg back to school. Everybody really enjoyed themselves and would definitely love to go on the trip again!

By Chris Green and Ian Durrans (Year 12)

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Updated 8th April 2004 by Mike Royden
The Whitby High School, Cheshire County Council.