WW1 Battlefield Tour for members of the Porch Project

Events - Posted 18/08/2017 23:06

After the excitement of the Eurotunnel, a new experience for many involved, we headed into Belgium for our first stop at a small cemetery. The whole trip focused around Hadleigh men who had fought and lost their lives in the Great War.  Mark had fantastic information about each man, photos, letters home and postcards, which made it ever more poignant.  We placed a small cross at each grave we visited to commemorate the Hadleigh men.

Our next stop was Ypres (or ‘Wipers’ to the British soldiers) and the Menin Gate. This was a good chance for everyone to soak up the culture and grab an ice cream. Here we found one of the young people’s Great Great Great Uncle’s name commemorated on the Menin Gate itself. A hugely important monument for fallen soldiers in the region.

Back on the bus we headed toward our accommodation in the Somme region. Even the building we stayed in was a former British officer’s headquarters complete with trenches.  Fed and watered we bedded down for the night, well eventually after numerous “lights out” requests.

Our second day involved travelling down the western front visiting various Commonwealth Cemeteries.  This really bought home just how many people across the world were and still are affected by the Great war.

After a spot of well-earned lunch, young Tyler Hansen volunteered to dress up in full WW1 soldier gear and we learned a little more about the conditions the men had to fight in.  If you’ve ever used the phrase “kick the bucket” go on google and find its origins.

As we meandered back North nearer to Calais and home we visited another few key areas, one of which being an 80-foot-wide and 60-foot-deep bomb crater, that was a sight to behold. We then concluded our trip in Thiepval. Here stands an enormous Memorial to the missing, listing the names of over 72,000 British & South African servicemen who died during the battles of the Somme.  The whole trip and all of its emotions culminated here. The sheer size and presence of the place certainly had a powerful impact on all the young people. It has to be said there was a few of us moved to tears. What an amazing way to end this trip, we really had all learned so much and firmly placed our thoughts and feelings alongside those few Brave Hadleigh men that gave so much for us all.

Great memories for all involved and the biggest thank you to Mark Brennan.

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