Our final day on the battlefields began with a
visit to the ‘Plug street’ memorial where over Christmas 1914, British troops
fraternised with the Germans and had the famous Christmas kick about.
Students learned that while there is truth in this heart warming story, just
one mile away and all along the front lines, there are graves marking the many
soldiers on both sides who fought and died on Christmas Day.
Later, students visited the Berkshire Cemetery extension, seeing the grave and learning the story of Lieutenant Max Seller, a German Jew who fought and died for his country. Max’s story was fascinating as it put truth to the many lies perpetuated later by Adolf Hitler in his attempts to corrupt the memory of The First World War for his own political purposes.
We were then told the moving story of Lieutenant Ronald ‘Ronnie’ William Poulton, the rugby union footballer and England captain who was killed in the First World War in May 1915, much to the intense grief of his fellow soldiers.
Our final thoughts of the morning were for the incomprehensible figure of 10 million dead over the four year period. Remembering as well the different conditions of those that survived and the many problems they faced when they returned from war.
Before departing the cemetery, the group paid their respects to the fallen soldiers while one student placed a wreath dedicated to a family member that lost their life in the service of King and Country.
Students had a little free time in Ypres around lunch to buy Belgian chocolates and souvenirs before reluctantly departing for home. We made good time on both the euro tunnel and the roads, arriving back safe and sound in Welton at 8pm.
Students were complimented regularly by members of the public on their polite and considerate conduct, much to the pride of the accompanying members of staff. We learned a great deal, were moved by the emotions of the journey and had a thoroughly memorable trip.