Day 3 started with a very personal visit as we stopped at the cemetery at Derancourt to allow one student from Ferryhill School to lay a wreath at the grave of her Great Great Grandfather. This was a reminder that although we had seen row upon upon of graves that each one had a personal story, each one a family, and each one a connection to us today.
We then moved on to Thiepval the biggest British War Memorial in the world, created to mark the Battle of the Somme. On the memorial there are the names of over 70,000 British soldiers who fell in the battle and have no grave. Edie and Rachel looked for and found a number of Redcar men on the memorial itself.
We then moved on to Sheffield Park the site of the Pals Battalion’s attacks on the first day of the Somme. We saw what remains of the frontline trench of the most famous of the Pals, the Accrington Pals, and the memorial to those who fell on the 1st July 1916. We also took part in a very powerful demonstration on what happened to them that day reconstructing how hard it would have been for them to attack the German positions. We also had our first experience of one of the dangers of the battlefields – unspent munitions.
From here we moved to the Ulster Tower, the memorial to the Ulster division who also attacked that day. We had a tour around the rebuilt trenches of the Ulstermen which archaeologists have been excavating.
The final stop was Lochnagar Crater a very large hole created by a British mine set off to launch the attacks on the Somme. At 90 feet deep and a quarter of a mile around it is a very big hole.
There was one last activity when we returned back to Flanders Lodge and that was a demonstration by modern soldiers of the differences in equipment between those of 1914-18 and those today.
A long and packed day which certainly took it out of Edie and Rachel. The final day approaches with still more sites to visit and then the long journey home.
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Principal: Mrs Angela Sweeten
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