Top, Left to Right:Tyne Cot memorial, Tyne Cot cemetery.   

Bottom, Left to Right: Edward Plowright’s grave, Orla signing the book of remembrance at Perth cemetery, Students in the 'trenches'.

On Friday 29th June, 44 Year 8 and 9 students, accompanied by 5 members of staff, went on a day trip to Ypres in Belgium. The purpose of the trip was to develop the students’ knowledge of WWI and to remember the sacrifice that was made by millions of soldiers, a purpose that was made more poignant by the discovery that Orla Russell (year 8) had a great-uncle who was buried at Perth Cemetery in Ypres. Orla’s great-uncle, Edward Plowright, was member of the Rifle Brigade and was killed, aged 21, on 22nd August 1917. Prior to the trip Orla had researched his death (as part of her Year 8 History project) and found out that Edward had been killed by a bullet to the chest, a bullet which went through a cigarette case he had in his pocket and which is still in his family today.

During the day trip to Ypres, the school visited a number of cemeteries including Lijssenthoek where they learnt about the death of Nurse Nellie Spindler and also about the clean-up operation after WWI – many Chinese labourers were used to clear the battle fields and a number are buried in Lijssenthoek, main cause of death being the Spanish Flu which swept Europe between 1918-20.

They also visited Langemark, the only German cemetery in Ypres, which has over 44,000  and Tyne Cot. Highlight’s of the day were a visit to a replica Trench and when Mr Satterthwaite dressed as a Tommy (British soldier). Mr Satterthwaite confirmed that the uniform, made of wool, was not very comfortable or suitable for the 28-degree heat that Ypres had that day and that the kit bag he would have had to carry was very heavy (in WWI they weight approx. 3 stone!).   

The day ended with a visit to the grave of Edward Plowright. A short service was held and his great-niece Orla laid a wreath of behalf of her family and the school. All of the girls came away from the day with an appreciation that the soldiers who died in WWI weren’t just a number, they were individuals.

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