Some of us had seen the YouTube videos, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the Platoon Experience, in the best possible way.
Today we got to experience just a fraction of what it would have been like to be a soldier fighting the Battle of Passchendaele. As a group we walked through the museum, as a platoon we marched through foggy Belgium farmland. Wearing the full uniform of tunic, pants, helmet, heavy boots, puttees (calf wrappings) and with all our equipment in tow, rifles, gas masks and ammunition packs, we each were given the name of a soldier who fought in the battle. I was definitely surprised when I discovered the soldier I received grew up in Wandong. It really is a small world.
The next few hours were spent on the track from the Platoon Experience chateau, to the Tyne Cot Cemetery, completing various military procedures.
Tyne Cot Cemetery was a site to be marvelled at; 11,000 pristine white headstones standing amongst ruined German bunkers. It was even more humbling when you remembered just exactly what you were wearing, the same uniform as those permanently at Tyne Cot.
Overall I think the Platoon Experience was as promised, an experience and a great one at that. I think we can all take away a new perspective, one we’d only imagined before, that of the men who fought for our freedom, for which we thank them.