Unity City Academy

Unity City Academy

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WW1 History Trip

Miss Patterson and two Y8 girls went on a journey to commemorate the centenary of WWI on a 4 day/3 night trip to France and Belgium. First night stop was Kingswood in Ashford to look at WWI artefacts to start the learning and experience.  Then a trip to research WWI soldiers from Middlesbrough - Tom Mackintosh Hutchinson and Edwin Lawrence Davies. The girls  also be visited the cemetery where Edwin is buried and payed their respects to the local soldier.

The students visited lijssenthoek cemetery, where over 11,000 soldiers from WWI are buried across a range of over 30 nationalities. They then went to Passchendaele Museum where they seen and walked around exact replica trenches. To finish the day they went to the last post ceremony at Meningate to commemorate the soldiers who do not have a grave site. The students worked on key questions throughout the day such as: how did WWI affect ordinary people? Is remembrance more or less important 100 years on? From the answers they have gave they are certainly getting a lot out of the experience!

Lochnagar Crater was the first site they visited the next day. The Lochnagar mine was created by men of the Tunnelling Companies, Royal Engineers who spent months digging tunnels deep underground and packing them with explosives. The idea was to blow up the German stronghold close to the village of La Boisselle and make it easier for the British troops attack and break through.

They then visited Ulster Memorial Tower, Thiepval Wood and Mill Road Cemetery. Thiepval Wood is where the British front line ran on the 1st July 1916. The road we walked along to get here put us in the middle of no man's land! In the wood we seen actual trenches that had been restored by archaeologists. The students learned about the attack made by the 36th (Ulster) Division on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Next, they travelled to Sheffield Memorial Park. As they approached there was a shallow depression in the ground immediately behind the wire fence which marks the trace of the front line trench from where Accringtin Pals attacked on the 1st July 1916. The German lines ran through the land in front of the small village of Serre which is straight up the gentle slope past the cemetery. Even from the cemetery it is not possible to see Serre. However at Queens Cemetery we paid respect to the Middlesbrough soldier we discovered through our research on the first night. His name was Tom Mackintosh Hutchinson.

The girls followed this up by looking at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery. The New Zealand Division joined the Battle of the Somme at Caterpillar Valley in mid September 1916 as part of a big push to capture the woods in this area. The first attacks in this area had included the use of mounted cavalry from the Indian Army (the 2nd Deccan Horse) in an attack on High Wood. A later attack in September 1915 would see the first use of tanks on the battlefield.

Finally they visited Thiepval Memorial which is a memorial to the Missing of the Somme. It is on one of the highest points of land on the old Somme battlefield. It is memorial to the 72,192 missing British and South African men who died on the Somme battlefields between 1915 and March 1918 who have no known grave. The girls both left a personalised cross of remembrance at this sight.

The big question of the day was definitely answered by the end of the day and the girls evaluated all the evidence they had seen through the day.

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