A day by day account since Tuesday:
Tuesday – London traffic caused delays so we missed our booked ferry time. I do question how students who have had a HUGE breakfast still manage to consume a Burger King Whopper 2 hours later!!!! We then finally arrived in Ypres and visited the Flanders Field Museum. This gave a great insight into the sufferings of the Belgian people in the three – yes three- battles of Ypres. Hotel is/was fantastic and diner was great. The arrangement with the local chocolate shop where 10 per cent discounts were provided to BSC students, along with a welcome sign in the shop window was great. Be warned that the discount has been well used.
More importantly, on the same night we went to the Menin Gate memorial ceremony, after which Emma Rigoni gave her eulogy. It was a very moving experience and Emma is to be congratulated on her research and respect she demonstrated. We do have a video of the eulogy but are having problems sending it due to its size. We will sort it out.
Wednesday – To Fromelles, VC Corner and tha Australian memorial. Incredibly moving. Lachie did his eulogy and several other students laid their poppies. Lachie’s eulogy was exceptionally well done and the students showed a great deal of respect. (Same video problems). Following Fromeles we came back to Ypres for cakes!! We then went to Polygon Wood cemetery where’ve met up with a chap called Johann we had met in the hotel the previous night. He gave us a fascinating tour of the memorial where he focused on particular soldiers and gave life to them. We then had a cros country trek to a German bunker hidden in the (new) Polygon Wood. Johan knows Tim Whitford and has been to Tallarook!. A great experience. The next step was Langemark German cemetery, dedicated to German student volunteers. This was an opportunity for the students to be aware of the fact that there were two sides in the war, both of whom suffered. Many interesting observations were made about the difference in approach to memorials.
Thursday – Platoon Experience. What an event! The kids experienced real life WW1, being fully clothed in WW1 paraphernalia and undertaking a number of practical exercises such as grenade throwing, wounded rescue, gas masks and ‘leapfrogging’. We had fantastic guides and,hopefully, the students got a great deal out of it.
Summary – We are off to The Somme tomorrow. Can I say, on behalf of myself and Lisa, that your children have been outstanding. Complaints are few. Their involvements and appreciation of the experience has displayed great respect. The guides at the Platoon Experience said, quite honestly, that we were one of the best groups they have had through.
We head off to the Somme tomorrow. Please note that after Friday night/saturday morning they will have no wifi access until Caen on Tuesday. Miannay will not have wifi, but they may get some in Amiens on Sunday.
We have many photos which, with Chris Farnays help, upload ASAP.