The Battlefields: angus'S story
ANGUS TELLS THE STORY OF YEAR NINES' TRIP TO WWI BATTLEFIELDS
On day 1 we did not do much other than travelling. After 7 hours’ driving through Britain, an hour and a half sailing on the ferry, and then 3 and a half hours’ more driving through France, we finally arrived. Having eaten beefburgers for tea, we ended our day.
On day 2 we visited a few museums in the Somme area of France, and then visited my favourite place on the trip: Thiepval Memorial. Thiepval memorial is a huge structure on which are inscribed 70,000 names of lost soldiers; these soldiers, sadly, were not found, and they have no other grave. It was a bit overwhelming when we walked down the field to it - it was huge! As you slowly walk closer you notice how the walls are filled, from top to bottom, with these names. There were so many different people from a variety of places and cultures, and it just shows how many people gave their lives in war for their countries’ sake. In addition, around the Somme area, it can be noticed, among the green fields, that there are many remnants from the war: bullets, shrapnel (from the shellfire) and lots of small craters. Unexploded bombs also lie in the fields, and they still take lives to this day!
On day 3 we went over to Ypres in Belgium. It took an hour to get there, but it felt like nothing after the tiring trek from Urmston. The Belgian town was beautiful, and chocolatiers were in abundance! The most memorable moment from Belgium was probably visiting Tyne Cot cemetery. This cemetery has 12,000 graves in it and is the biggest British cemetery in the world. Again, it was overwhelming at first, and you notice that, once more, most of the graves belong to unidentified victims of war. I find it quite sad how so many people who bravely fought and lost their lives cannot be properly remembered today. Amongst the identifiable graves we found that of ‘H. Crowley’, a soldier from Urmston. In addition to Tyne Cot, we visited Sanctuary Wood where they have preserved trenches to show what life was like. I managed to get away with only a little mud on my clothing, but unfortunately a friend did not realise a puddle was knee-deep, and, well, you can guess the rest…
To end the trip, we attended the last post ceremony in Menin Gate. This was a huge structure like Thiepval with names of lost soldiers. Every single night they close all the roads around it and carry out a full ceremony with trumpets and wreath laying. I found it amazing how they have built such a remarkable structure and how people dedicate time every night to commemorate the lost fighters. After that, it was back home on another long trip.
Overall, this trip was great. Other than a bit of mud on my trousers and extremely long drives, I enjoyed every second. It is inspirational how people dedicate so much time, money and thought to remembering these people. It seems so unfair that they were killed so young and never got to grow older, but if we all remember them, they can live forever.