Highcliffe History trip to Belgium and France!
Wow, what a trip! So much emotion, with thought-provoking, impactful and informative museums, and sombre cemeteries. We're now starting our journey back to the UK, after a tremendously packed few days in France and Belgium.
On Friday, we visited the Canadian memorial at the Vimy Ridge - a strategically very important piece of high ground, offering commanding views over the local countryside. The fighting here was very intense. After some fresh air, and the opportunity to stretch our legs, we headed to the hotel in Albert. Dinner in town was great fun, with live music. It was Bastille Day, after all!
On Saturday, we went to the Musée Somme 1916 in Albert. This museum - located in an underground communications tunnel - boasts a great array of fascinating artefacts. Next on the itinerary was the Lochnagar Crater. A mine, extended under the German lines, was filled with explosives and detonated. It is said that the explosion could be heard in London. The third visit of the day was to the very moving Thiepval memorial - covered with the names of men missing in the battle of the Somme. An incredible 77,000 in all. Sobering. We laid a wreath, and took some time for reflection.
Two stops near Beaumont-Hamel rounded off our day. Firstly we visited the Newfoundland Park, and then the Sunken Lane. Both sites of extreme loss of life on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1st, 1916.
We boarded the coach, and headed to Belgium.
Sunday began with a visit to Tyne Cot Cemetery, near Passchendaele. The majority of the nearly 12,000 graves are unnamed. The students each received a poppy cross, and were encouraged to place it on a grave of their choice.
Two fantastic museums came next, the In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres and the Passchendaele Memorial Museum in Zonnebeke offered subtly different takes on the Battle of Passchendaele - 31st July-14th November 1917. It's fantastic that there are so many great museums in the area.
Also fascinating was the restored German trench system in Bayernwald - our first opportunity to actually get into the trenches we have heard so much about.
In the evening, we were honoured to have the opportunity to place a wreath at the nightly Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. The crowds were incredible.
Monday started in Poperinge, with a visit to the execution spot for deserters - a courtyard that has seen some terrible things. The quiet and contemplative mood was lifted by a trip to Talbot House, a club for entertaining the troops during their furlough time behind the lines.
A final visit to the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery rounded off the trip, with a last opportunity for reflection before heading back to France and the ferry home.
One thing is for certain, we haven't let the grass grow under our feet on this trip!
Owned by: LDN | Last Published: 17/07/2017 14:10:58 | Next Update: n/a
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