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Thursday 20 April 2017 - 'Life at the Front'

The students learnt much today from their full immersion Life at the Front program. Dressed in full World War 1 kit they marched from cemetery to cemetery, learnt rifle drill and experienced an authentic bully beef meal as they experience a day in the life of a solder. One of their destinations today was Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery and the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of whom 8,367 are unidentified and 'Known unto God' only.

Photos

Photos of the students' Life at the Front program have been added to the gallery.

Student views

Life at the Front

Today began with an early start as we were required to be at the Passchendale War Museum early, ready to begin our day. We donned many layers and boarded the coach, anticipating a truly unique part of the tour.

Our program began with a guided tour through the museum, discovering the many artefacts and stories the building held. The roles of the different armies and the details of trench life were particularly interesting.

After learning about trench life, we began to replicate it, exploring the replica dugout built into the basement of the museum. Many displays set up visualised how the troops lived and worked in the dark, musty, conditions of the underground tunnels. The smallness of the spaces amazed us time and time again.

From there we took a walk through the replica trenches set up in the outdoor space outside the museum. There were many interesting examples of the contrast of wealth between the Allied and German troops, as well as original architecture incorporated into the structure. The trenches were certainly eye-opening, seeing how cramped the conditions were that these men lived in.

Next came the part we all had been waiting for; dressing up. We donned our authentic World War One uniforms and a huge amount of kit including a helmet, gas mask and rifle. After a surprisingly good 'Tommys' Supper' we set off on the route taken by the soldiers who fought at Broodseinde Ridge on the 4th of October, 1917. Along the way we were issued with an identity and were told many stories of these men and the battle. Several times we stopped to conduct several drills including gas mask drill, stretcher bearing, extended formation and grenade throwing. Finally, we reached our ending point, Tyne Cot Cemetery, where we spent some time observing the graves and reflecting on our experiences. Many of us remarked on how 'real' it felt walking the trail the soldiers walked, and how much closer we felt to the soldiers as a result.

The day finished with a quiet dinner at the hotel and some down time to do some odd jobs in the evening. All in all, a tiring, yet fulfilling day.

By Hannah Taylor and Bella Clarke

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This page was last reviewed on 21 Apr 2017 at 02:01PM

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