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Our WW1 trip began by taking the coach to Kingswood Grosvenor Hall Centre in Kent. We met a serving soldier called Faz from the Royal Signals. We did team building activities with other pupils, then we were given a WW1 overview, a tour briefing and did some research on a soldier that lived in Liskeard.

On Monday we went to France by Eurotunnel to Belgium’s memorial museum of Passchendale. We saw uniforms, guns, shells, medals and replicas of trenches. When walking through the trenches we could see the differences between the British and German ones, with the British ones being poorly built. The one thing I was amazed at was the size of the shells and guns.

Onto Tyne Cot Cemetery where thousands of soldiers from the Battle of Passchendaele were buried. There are 11,956 soldiers buried and 34,927 names of missing soldiers written along the back walls. Many graves are marked ‘unknown’. It was shockingly unbelievable to see so many graves of men whose ages ranged from only teens to early twenties.

After tea, we went to the ceremony of the last post at Menin Gate, Ypres. Every night of every year they have a ceremony to remember the missing, with the sound of the trumpets signalling the start and end of the ceremony. The laying of poppy wreaths was very moving. The whole thing reminded us of how lucky we are, these men gave their lives to protect us and our country.

The next day we went to the Somme Battlefields and saw the real front line trenches in Thiepval woods, and were told stories about some of the battles and soldiers who lived on this part of the line. We then visited the Thiepval Memorial which has the name of 72,192 men who went missing after the Battle of the Somme. It is the largest British memorial in the world.

We also visited a German cemetery to see the differences between the British and the German ones. The German cemetery was a lot darker, as you had to walk through a big black tunnel to enter, and there were black grave stones on the floor.

It is both interesting and heart breaking to hear lots of different stories affecting both sides. So many soldiers from numerous regiments, countries and religions involved in war losing their lives, leaving families and friends without loved ones for years to come. However, we will always remember them, and this was the main message and purpose of our centenary trip.

By Laura Hiscock

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