The Year 10 Battlefields Trip, lasting from 2nd-5th July, saw the students and teachers staying near Lille and getting the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of the First World War.
A number of sites were visited on the Somme, scene of the infamous battle of 1916 where almost 20,000 British and Empire troops lost their lives on 1st July 1916. We were able to commemorate the sacrifices of three students’ relatives on the trip, and two girls laid a wreath at the Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres on Wednesday 4th July.
Mr Roden led us around the Bluff, and many of the other sites, and explained much about the Battle of Messines of June 1917. His expertise, after countless Battlefields Trips, was absolutely instrumental in the success of the trip. We spent some time at Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth War Graves War Cemetery in the world, where we laid a further wreath beside the panel of the 5th King’s Liverpool Regiment and directly underneath the name of an Old Birkonian, C. N. Dod.
At Newfoundland Memorial Park, the students visited the grave of J. M. S. Sykes, another Old Birkonian, who lost his life at the Somme in 1916. Inscribed on his grave is the School moto, Beati Mundo Corde. His tender age, only 19, and the inscription on the grave brought home to the students just how much impact this war had on that generation and future generations.
It was a most worthwhile trip, in searing heat, with a most receptive touring party. There are many pictures from the trip on the Birkenhead School Facebook page and you can find further information on the History Department’s Twitter page.