Battlefields tour was a poignant experience

One of the Ponteland High School students at Tyne Cot.
One of the Ponteland High School students at Tyne Cot.

A party of 40 Year 10 students and a group of staff from Ponteland High School commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele with a three-day tour of the battlefields.

Concentrating on the Somme and Ypres areas, the tour was titled Their Greatest Game and was themed to enable the teenagers to reflect on not only the sacrifices made by local men during the First World War, but also those made by footballers – particularly footballers from the North East.

The trip started with a poignant visit to the Footballers’ Battalion memorial at Longueval.

Men such as Donald Simpson Bell, who in 1911/12 played for the Newcastle United reserve team, became one of the many casualties of the Great War, losing his life in action that led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross.

There were visits to Hill 60, Lochnagar Crater and the Newfoundland Memorial Park, and the highly moving Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate provided a suitable opportunity for the Ponteland contingent to pay its respects to the fallen, with three representatives from the school laying a wreath.

In addition, they went to see Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.

Head of history at Ponteland High, David Bartlett, said: “Trips like this demonstrate the extent to which young people care about the past and the sacrifices made on all our behalf.”