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Royal Russell School's Trip to Battlefields - February 2012

Published on isbi School News dated Tuesday 28th of February 2012

Year 12 English Literature students were given an insight into the brutal realities of life on the Western Front in a two-day visit to the First World War battlefields in Belgium and France.

The dozen students, accompanied by 10 pupils from Carshalton School for Girls, spent a day in the Ypres area of Belgium, followed by a further day touring the battlefields and cemeteries of the Somme.

English Literature students study a variety of writings on the 1914-18 Great War throughout their AS course, including the poetry of Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, R.C. Sherriff's Journey's End, and Regeneration by Pat Barker.

The trip was arranged to enhance students' contextual knowledge of the war and to explore the places that inspired and horrified the writers they are studying.

Students first visited Lijssenthoek hospital cemetery the final resting place of thousands of British men before comparing this to the more stark surroundings of a German cemetery at Langemark.

The group were later able to tour Essex Farm Cemetery, where John McCrae penned In Flanders Field, a memorial poem synonymous for the line: 'We are the dead.'

The highlight of the second day at the Somme was a visit to Newfoundland Memorial Park, with students able to walk across what were the killing fields of No Man's Land 96 years previously.

The towering Thiepval Monument to the Missing was the group's last destination. Here, Harvey laid a wreath on behalf of Royal Russell School on the grave of an unknown soldier, while Masato read aloud the Sassoon poem Aftermath.
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