bringing out the best in boys

A History Lesson to Remember

Posted at 10:11 am on 18th April, 2019

Wellacre visits World War One Battlefields

In March, Wellacre staff and students embarked on a journey of a lifetime to visit the World War One battlefields of Belgium and France.

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The History department have previously made this field trip and most recently participated in the Centenary Battlefield Tour Programme in 2018 with two Wellacre students.  This year, Wellacre made the decision to open the trip to more students to share the powerful historical experience.

The group of 50 students, from Years 7 to 10, along with Wellacre staff visited key sites along the Western Front in Belgium.  In the town of Ypres they attended the nightly Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate as well as the Passchendaele Museum. Students explored a trench experience, studied countless artefacts, and were amazed by the size and scale of the  Lochnagar Crater.

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Xiomar, Year 8, said:

“It was a really good opportunity to travel to France and Belgium, and we saw some really interesting sites, memorials and went to commemorations ceremonies.  I think the Battlefields trip will help my understanding in History lessons because I’ve seen for myself how hard war time was for soldiers and the effect of war by visiting replica trenches as well as a huge crater left by a bomb dropped in France.”

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The Battlefields tour contained visits to Tyne Cot and other key cemeteries in Belgium as well as a full day’s visit to the Somme in France, including Beaumont Hamel memorial park, Sunken Lane and the inspiring Thiepval Memorial.  

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A personal excursion added to the trip was a visit to Mendinghem Cemetery, the final resting place of William Harris, who died in 1917, aged 27.  William was a focal point of Wellacre’s Centenary commemorations in November 2018, when students learnt that as a baby, he lived with his family in a Navvy Hut on Irlam Road while his father worked on building the Manchester Ship Canal.  

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In his role as CCF School Staff Instructor and a former serving military soldier, Colour Sergeant Boswell accompanied the Battlefields Tour students, including some of Wellacre’s Navy cadets, to offer an in-depth insight into World War One soldiers’ experiences in battle.

In particular, Colour Sergeant Boswell,  gave the students a demonstration of real life events for the Lancashire Fusiliers soldiers, which took place near the German occupied village and machine gun post at Sunken Lane, Beaumont Hamel.

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Wellacre’s Leader of Humanities, Mrs O’Neill, said:

“Students took pride in honouring the memory of local soldiers, in particular, William Harris who lived so close to where Wellacre students live and go to school, and paid their respects to at their place of burial.  They each laid a ‘Wellacre Poppy’ at a grave which personally resonated with them; many choosing an unknown soldier or a soldier from the Manchester Regiment or Lancashire Fusiliers.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our boys conducted themselves with pride and respect on this Battlefields tour. It has been an honour to share this learning experience with them.”

Thanks to Mr Gillan, Mr Boswell, Mrs Haymes and Mrs Whitehurst who kindly accompanied students on the trip as well as to Mr Jackson, who designed and created the Wellacre poppies.