Students reflect on ‘hard-hitting’ tour of the battlefields

Three people from Morpeth’s high school went on an informative and emotional trip to parts of Belgium and northern France.

The First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme, funded by the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government, is designed to help teachers and students across the country to develop a deeper understanding of the First World War.

King Edward VI School students Sophie Lamont and Kirsty Famelton and history teacher Rachel Sharples joined groups from 15 other schools for a four-day visit to the Western Front.

They were accompanied by staff from Equity and University College London’s Institute of Education, professional battlefield guides and serving soldiers.

The group visited museums, battlefield sites, memorials and cemeteries including the Commonwealth War Grave sites of Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium, and Thiepval Memorial in the Somme, France.

In addition, they attended the Last Post ceremony in Ypres, which takes place under the Menin Gate every single night of the year.

Sophie said she discovered and photographed the names of some of the men named on KEVI’s war memorial that were engraved onto the monuments and the graves at these sites, including Private John Barnett Aynsley who lived on Noble Terrace in Morpeth and died at the age of 19.

She added: “We found it emotionally hard-hitting to know that people only a few years older than us faced such tragedy and died enduring the bitter hardships of The Great War.”