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Pupils travel to First World War battlefields

The group of pupils who travelled from Lisburn to Belgium.

The group of pupils who travelled from Lisburn to Belgium.

PUPILS from St Patrick's Academy and Lisnagarvey High School have taken part in the twentieth annual visit to Belgium and France recently, when pupils from the two schools paid a visit to the First World War battlefields.

As usual, it was a very useful, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable trip for both pupiIs and teachers. In preparation for their week away together the pupils had worked in the two schools on activities connected with the war and had visited the Somme Heritage Centre.

Visits took place to Tyne Cot and Langemarck, Ypres, Arras, Albert, Thiepval, the Ulster Tower (where a wreath is always laid) and other sites in the Somme valley and the Ypres Salient. The group joined a very large crowd of visitors to listen to the 'Last Post' being played at the Menin Gate at 8pm. This ceremony has taken place nearly every evening since 1927 and each year the number of people who participate seems to grow.

Demi Stewart and Kealan McVeigh lay a wreath at the Ulster Tower on behalf of both schools.Other highlights of the visit included the chance for the pupils to experience the actual trenches of Hill 62 and the visit to the fascinating 'In Flanders Field' museum housed in the Cloth Hall, Ypres.

The pupils also visited the beautiful medieval city of Bruges and spent a very enjoyable day at Disneyland Paris, followed by a visit to Paris and a trip on the River Seine.

The teachers involved said the pupils who participated in the visit have learnt a number of important lessons. Firstly, that war is horrific and that in a war situation many die in vain. Secondly, that they have a common heritage which they share and in which we can all take pride. They also had a chance to practice their French. hone their geographical skills and make new friends. Preparations will soon be underway for next year's trip, an example of the collaboration between the history departments of the two schools which has existed for over two decades. Over the years many pupils have been introduced to the battlefields and, no doubt, some will have returned there in later life. The teachers themselves have seen many new sites and facilities opened in the area as the centenary of the First World War approaches.

Ulster Star