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Sunday 22 April 2018 - Life at the front

Arguably, the highlight of the tour, today students immersed themselves in the life of a solider. Dressing in full WWI kit they undertook a journey through the Passchendaele battlefields in a once-in-a-lifetime experience that lead them to sites such as 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 of the students' tour of Paris have been added to the photo gallery.

Student views

Life at the front

We have passed the half way mark in our trip, and today was a highlight. Experiencing just a little bit of what Australian WWI soldiers went through was something we won't forget. We first started with a tour of the Passchendaele Memorial Museum, guided by a wonderful tour guide who was able to give us more insight into the battles and everyday life of a soldier. We walked through recreations of trenches, dugouts and shelters. The walkways were narrow, the beds were small and the halls were dark and cold. We could not imagine living in these conditions for such long periods.

After being guided through, we made our way to the house to be fitted for our authentic uniforms that Australian soldiers wore in WWI. We were given rifles, gas masks, putties, trousers, helmets, a tunic, webbing and a new identity. Harry was nominated lieutenant and our nine-person platoon was created. Before beginning our journey, we enjoyed a classic styled WWI meal of bullied beef - which was not bad. We all agreed that eating the same thing days on end would be very difficult. We then set out on our expedition marching through the town and practising different drills. We also had the experience of commemorating a soldier in the place where they passed.

We then made it to Tyne Cot Cemetery. The endless rows of headstones was very confronting, especially after walking the route of the battle. There is no way to describe the feeling when you are standing amongst 12,000 white headstones that eventually merge into a plane of white. We all learnt a lot about a soldier's life but we also recognised that there is no way that you can fully recreate the harrowing experience they would have had. It was crazy to think that the march that we took was among the last steps thousands of men would take. Many of which left behind loving families. The day in the life of a soldier helped to create a deeper understanding of what it was like to be an Australian soldier in WWI.

By Lillian Ward and Isabelle Jardine

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This page was last reviewed on 27 Apr 2018

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