Pilgrimage begins

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Today I begin a 4 day trip to the Western Front of the First World War.  I am one of the staff taking a group of pupils on a visit to the Somme and Ypres.  

We travel to our base in France today.  Tomorrow we visit the Somme and try to give our students some perspective of the tragedy that was the Battle of the Somme.  For me the highlight will come early as we visit Euston Road Cemetery where my Great Uncle George is buried.  He was killed on 3rd November 1916.  In the same cemetery also lies Sgt Will Streets of the Sheffield City Battalion – a self educated miner from Whitwell who wrote beautiful poetry and lost his life trying to rescue an injured comrade from no mans land on the first day of the Somme (1st July).

On Wednesday we visit the battlefields of Ypres and focus primarily on the 3rd Battle of Ypres – the attempt to capture Passchendaele.  A big highlight for me personally will be the chance to visit for the very first time a true hero – Noel Chavasse.  Recipient of not one but two Victoria Crosses.  The second (or bar as the 2nd award is know) was awarded posthumously in 1917. He is buried in a cemetery outside Ypres.

Another major highlight will be the honour of some of our pupils taking part in and laying a wreath as part of Wednesdays last post ceremony at the Menin Gate.  I once had the honour of reading the exhortation at the ceremony – one of the most nerve wracking, emotional yet wonderful things I’ve ever done.

Wi-fi permitting I will be blogging my reflections of the trip throughout – if wi-fi doesn’t permit I will do it afterwards.  I am immensely looking forward to yet another trip to walk in the steps of my grandad.

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Wayne Chadburn

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