Blackwood Comprehensive School – Visit to the battlefields and research with Blackwood Family History Group

Events and News feature holding image - 220x140This project is part of the Welsh Government’s Remembering the First World War – £1000 grant for secondary schools in Wales scheme. Every secondary school in Wales has the opportunity to apply to receive up to £1,000 to develop creative and innovative projects to commemorate the First World War. For more information and guidance on how to apply, click here.

*All text has been provided by the school

Our idea:

Pupils will partake in an educational visit; including the Commonwealth War Cemeteries, German Cemeteries, Passchendaele Museums, and Flanders’ Field Museum.

111024 - WG_Funded_land_mono jpg - LogoThey will take part in the ‘Last Post Ceremony’ at The Menin Gate and reflect on the continued remembrance by the people of Belgium, particularly the citizens of Ypres.
Community links with Blackwood Family History Group, prior to the visit, will enable pupils to research local links.

Pupils will have to opportunity to recount experiences and share thoughts within the school, and wider community when they return home, through displays, opening evening and assemblies.

What happened:

In July 2014, 100 pupils from Year 8 and staff from Blackwood Comprehensive School journeyed to Ypres, Belgium to learn more about the First World War and to help understand the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ made by the people of Wales.  An outline of how we achieved our outcomes is below:

During our visit we visited two museums.   In Flanders’ Fields Museum and Passchendaele Museum, both brilliant museums but in two completely different ways.  These museums allowed all pupils, regardless of ability, to gain a greater understanding of the politics, geography and history of the First World War.  They experienced ‘hands on’ activities such as visiting trenches and handling artefacts.  These activities allowed them to understand the conditions and life during the war for both soldiers and civilians.

We attended the nightly Ceremony at the Menin Gate where two pupils lay a wreath in honour of 23247 Private James Dallow, of the South Wales Borderers, who was related to one of the pupils.  Everyone was touched by the ceremony, including those who had witnessed it before.  The impact upon the pupils on hearing about the history behind the nightly Act of Commemoration was immense, being at The Menin Gate and seeing the town come to a standstill and townspeople taking part, made the pupils realise the impact of the First World War on the area of Ypres including how they continue to remember and thank daily those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

We had a guided tour of the WW1 Battlefields undertaken by guides from Ypres Tourist Information Office, their knowledge, stories and enthusiasm were outstanding.  At each stop the guides recounted stories, answered questions and talked about life in Belgium including post war.  We finished our tour at Tyne Cot Cemetery, where in our final Act of Remembrance, we laid a second wreath from all the pupils at Blackwood Comprehensive School.

We are sharing our experiences with our school and wider community.  We reflected on our visit during Assemblies in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday and during our KS3 Act of Remembrance on 11th November 2014.