“An emotional, eye opening experience (and testimony) to how many people helped defend and fight for our country” – Shannon Nicol (S6).
Over the summer of 2014, the social sciences department of Madras Collages brought interested history pupils on a unique tour of selected memorials, battle sites and grave yards in Belgium to mark the century year of the First World War. Open to years S3-S6, the trip encouraged a mix of ideas between our different age groups.
The trip aimed to inspire and enthuse us, the pupils, by showing the SQA history course in its visual context, coupled with the fantastic aid and expertise of ‘Guild of Battlefield Guides’ Mike Scott. Mike, our professional guide, not only had highly informative and interesting insight, but emotive stories of individuals in the Great War for the group to identify with.
After the Folkstone-Calais tunnel crossing we continued to travel across Europe in the coach. Once we arrived in Belgium the visits started at once, with head boy and girl placing crosses at the grave of a fallen Madras pupil. The group then visited another grave yard, this time the site of a behind lines hospital where many people died from wounds, but with a huge 75% being saved. Here a post was erected for every day of the war with a notch for every person who had died, this we especially found emotional.
Thunder sent us to the hostel where Madras wasn’t the only school staying there. In the evenings we had the chance to play snooker or badminton with some playing football on the lawn with willing teachers. The next day was one of less education where we had a great time out in Bruges. The trip together went on a canal cruises the school had organised in Bruges’s ancient water ways. The pupils then had the sunny afternoon of free time with some shopping, wandering or visits to the city clock-tower.