Students’ pilgrimage to WW1 battlefields

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PUPILS from a secondary school were given an in-depth look at the horrific events of World War One on a tour of the Western Front.

Westleigh High pupils Caleb Anderson and Alanna Anderson, together with teacher Ashleigh Jackson, visited France and Belgium on a tour funded by the Department for Education as part of the centenary commemorations of the conflict.

The group joined pupils from 15 other schools on the four-day trip to Flanders and the Somme, which included visiting museums, battlefields, memorials and cemeteries where thousands of soldiers are buried and remembered.

The Westleigh pupils visited the grave of Leigh soldier Lt JK Hunter, who was killed in September 1917 aged just 26 during the Third Battle of Ypres, at the Tyne Cot cemetery in Belgium.

Caleb, 16, said: “Being able to visit the war graves was truly phenomenal. It felt like an honour to visit the cemeteries and memorials for both the known and missing.”

Caleb and Alanna, 15, visited the Menin Gate in Ypres which bears the names of thousands of missing soldiers and watched the daily ceremony which includes playing the last post and a minute’s silence.

The trip also visited the Thiepval Memorial in the Somme, with the youngsters also gaining further insight into what life would have been like on the front line for those fighting 100 years ago from a current serving soldier in the British Army.

Caleb and Alanna will now take part in the Legacy 110 project, which encourages the young people who visited the battlefields to share their experiences on the Western Front through developing a website about remembering World War One.

Mrs Jackson said: “The visit to the Somme battlefield was particularly moving as we were accompanied by a serving soldier who also shared his experience and opinions on how the soldiers of 1916 would have been feeling on the eve before the battle.”