Good morning!! The snow is melting and we’re heading for Folkestone.
8:40 Loo break and coffees at Cobham.
All absolutely fine, a few have even woken up.
Not sure why anyone would think McDonalds is palatable this early in the morning.
10:20 Arrived safely at The Chunnel, to be greeted by a big sign saying, “Delays”. We’re all inside in the warm awaiting further instructions.
11:03 Heading for the train. Problems seem to have been resolved.
12:45 Finally!!! We’re on the train ready to head under the sea.
15:20 (despite Brexit, the clocks still go forward) We’ve emerged into the sunshine of France. All is well; the pupils have been very patient given the delays. It’s an hour or so into Belgium.
16:30 Its quite bright here in Belgium, but the wind is pretty chill across the flat land. First stop is Spanbroekmolen Crater, the site of a mine detonation at 3:10am on June 7th 1917. One of nineteen huge mine explosions that signalled the start of the Battle of Messines. A quick walk across a farmer’s field to Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery. This battlefield cemetery contains the remains of 57 men, all bar one, who were killed on the 7th June 1917.
17:40 Arrived at De Lork. They all look really tired. I’m sure they’ll have their meal and all want to go straight to bed…. or maybe they’ll be too excited and need to witness Mr Bennett’s football prowess first.
Watching teenage boys trying to make a bed. #painfullyslow
18:15 Soup & bread, chicken breast with rice and a yogurt consumed, they have all abandoned me to join Mrs Watkins’ football masterclass in the sports hall. You heard it here first. That will be followed by a red hot quiz, before I attempt to manage an early bedtime for 51 overexcited Year 9. It’ll be a piece of cake, or should that be waffle.
Up and awake!
They were very tired last night, so I have to say even the teachers got a good night’s sleep. It’s been raining, but the sun is trying it’s best to creep out.
Everyone fed and watered, packed lunches prepared, welly boots collected and we are off.
First stop is New Irish Farm Cemetery, to visit the grave of Harry Hudson, a relative of Zoe Kirk.
Heading into Ypres to visit the In Flanders Field Museum.
After the visit to the Museum, we headed off to Hill 62.
In the trenches at Sanctuary Wood we were able to wander through a set of preserved support trenches. Some of our party took the opportunity to stand in puddles!
The sun is shining here. It’s very cold, but it’s quite pleasant.
A short hop across to Langemark German Cemetery; a very different experience from the bright white headstones we had been used to. It’s the only German cemetery in the area and houses 40,000 fallen troops.
We are now heading to Tyne Cot British Cemetery; the largest British military cemetery in the world.
It always takes my breath away to wander around Tyne Cot Cemetery. Nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of it. Around 12,000 individual headstones, and then 35,000 names on the walls of memorial for the soldiers whom were never found. It’s worth saying at this point that the children’s behaviour has been brilliant. Polite, courteous and respectful; not words that people often use when describing teenagers. We have then returned to the hostel to rest before we eat and head back to Ypres, (The Menin Gate), for the ceremony of remembrance at 8pm. It happens every day, without fail, and I’m sure the young people will be moved by it.
“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them”.
We were joined by hundreds of other people at The Menin Gate this evening. A fantastic occasion, and a great opportunity to reflect on all that we have seen and heard.
Up nice and early this morning. Breakfast eaten and the rooms emptied, (and in some cases fumigated). A pair of socks actually walked themselves into the suitcase of one boy!
Off to Kemmel Chateau Cemetery to lay a wreath at the grave of Private R. Wilson. He was only 15 when he lost his life. Lydia Dilley was able to lay a wreath at the grave of William Hughes, who is linked to her family.
We held a minute silence in memory of the fallen.
We made a quick visit to Essex Farm Cemetery to visit the grave of another of 15 year old soldier, Valentine Strudwick.
The good news for Mums and Dads back home is that we are now in Ypres, and the tills in the chocolate shops are ringing very loudly…#BelgiumChocolates
We’re due back on the coach in 25 mins, before a sedate drive down to Calais.