Bowland pupils’ battlefields trip for First World War centenary

Bowland High School Year 10 pupils George Poole and Charlie Paige on their visit to Ypres with their teacher Dr Carmel Hunt. (s)
Bowland High School Year 10 pupils George Poole and Charlie Paige on their visit to Ypres with their teacher Dr Carmel Hunt. (s)

Two lucky pupils from Bowland High School participated in a Duke of Edinburgh funded battlefields trip to mark the Centenary of the First World War.

Charlie Paige and George Poole from Year 10 were the lucky winners of the “WW1 Inspiration” competition used to decide which pupils could accompany the school’s head of history, Dr Hunt, on the memorable trip.

After meeting in Kent to spend the afternoon examining some weapons of the time, including a Lee Enfield Rifle, the youngsters went on to Belgium and their first stop, Lijssenthoek cemetery, where they located the gravestone of a local Chatburn soldier, who died in 1917 at the age of 22, as well as a number of gravestones of the Chinese Labour Corp and the only gravestone of one female nurse in a cemetery of nearly 11,000 men.

Next it was off to Ypres and the Flanders Field Museum, which follows the history of Ypres and the battles surrounding it during the First World War. In the evening, the party attended the Menin Gate ceremony.

The next day, the boys set off first for Neuve Chapell to see the memorial for the soldiers from India who helped fight on the side of the Allies. Then it was onto Beaumont Hamel to see the memorial to 814 Canadian soldiers and the trenches where they fought on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, resulting in 233 killed, 386 injured and 91 missing from a group of 801.

To conclude their trip, Charlie and George attended an art session for a project organised by Belgium-based artist Koen Vanmechelen who has been selected to create a huge First World War commemorative Land Art installation in Ypres, Flanders.

The project, entitled Coming World Remember Me will consist of 600,000 sculptures created to represent the 600,000 who died in Belgium during the war, and is due for completion in 2018. Volunteers from all over the world will create clay “egg” sculptures, each with a dog-tag containing two names, a reference to the ID system used during the war.

The first tag is that of a soldier who died on Belgian soil, taken from a list from the In Flanders Fields Museum and the second is the name of the artist who made the sculpture a century later.

The effect, according to an official description of the project, is to join the present with the past and “Remind us of the uselessness of war: yesterday, today and tomorrow.”