10th and 11th of November 2023
Sixty-nine Year 9 and 10 students from Linton Village College spent the Remembrance weekend on the Battlefields trip in France and Belgium.
The trip gave students the opportunity to explore trench lines on the Western Front that had been preserved since the end of the First World War whilst guides talked them through how disease, infestation, and poor sanitation was rife.
At 11 o’clock on Armistice Day, students had an incredibly special opportunity to mark the 105th anniversary of the end of the First World War at a graveyard in the Somme Valley that was dedicated to men in the 36th Ulster Division, many who died in the very first hours of the Battle of the Somme on the 1st of July 1916. Pupils visited a number of other memorials, including the memorial for unknown soldiers at Thiepval and the Newfoundland Memorial Park.
Some students were fortunate to be able to visit the sites of some their ancestors who gave their lives during the fighting on the Western Front in the First World War and whose graves we visited on the trip on personal pilgrimages. Lucy, in Year 9, visited the grave of one of her great great grandfather’s brother who died in Ypres at the age of twenty seven.
Meanwhile, Thomas in Year 10 discovered that one of the tour guides is an expert on his ancestor who was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour in the British Army, for his gallantry and bravery in the First World War.
It was a very special and poignant extra-curricular event that staff and students gained a great deal from.
Visiting the trenches
On a rainy Friday in Belgium, pupils experienced first-hand the challenges that the environment in the trenches posed to British soldiers on the Western Front in the First World War. They explored trench lines that had been preserved since the end of the war whilst guides talked them through how disease, infestation, and poor sanitation was rife!
Armistice Day Remembrance
At 11 o’clock on Saturday, Armistice Day, pupils had an incredibly special opportunity to mark the 105th anniversary of the end of the First World War at a graveyard in the Somme Valley that was dedicated to men in the 36th Ulster Division, many of whom died in the very first hours of the Battle of the Somme on the 1st of July 1916. Pupils visited a number of other memorials, including the memorial for unknown soldiers at Thiepval and the Newfoundland Memorial Park.
Pupils were fortunate to be able to visit the sites of some pupils’ ancestors who gave their lives during the fighting on the Western Front in the First World War whose graves we visited on the trip. One pupil even found out that one of the tour guides is an expert on his ancestor who performed an act of gallantry and bravery in the face of battle sufficient to win the highest military honour in the British Army, the Victoria Cross.
These are some of the personal stories.
The 4 Woodroffe Brothers a personal account by Thomas Woodroffe in Year 10
Born in the late 1800 the 4 Woodroffe brothers were excelling at school Head boys, and Captains of cricket and other sporting teams. Then in 1914 World War 1 started. Three brothers signed up while the oldest of the four was in India.
The youngest of the four brothers, Sydney Clayton Woodroffe, was the 2nd lieutenant of the rifle brigade. He then became a platoon commander. He led his men on a counter attack after the explosion near Ypres but, in an unfortunate turn of events the Germans used this new weapon named the ‘flame thrower’ which broke through many of the British lines and soon he found himself surrounded by Germans. After exhausting all of his explosives he skilfully withdrew his men away.
Later that day Britain decided they wanted to retake that ground so he led his men in a valiant counter offensive but was shot 3 times on the lower body while desperately cutting open some wire in between his men and the German trenches. For these acts of bravery, he was awarded a Victoria Cross!
This is a poem that one of his class mates at high school composed about him after learning about his death. He died in 1916 at the age of 19 years and 7 months.
There is no fitter end than this.
No need is now to yearn nor sigh.
We know the glory that is his,
A glory that can never die.
Surely we knew it long before,
Knew all along that he was made
For a swift radiant morning, for
A sacrificing swift night-shade.
His body was never recovered but he is commemorated at the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres .
A personal account by Lucy Harrison in year 9
Both of my great great grandfathers were in World War One. The first one I’m going to talk about is Charles William Harding Walker. He enlisted for the War on 30th December 1914 and arrived in France on the 23rd February 1915. He was only 5 foot 4 inches tall but he was assigned to the Divisional Ammunition Column, responsible for transporting shells to the artillery.
On the 25th September 1915, Bombardier (the artillery equivalent of a Corporal) Walker was involved in bringing forward ammunition to support an attack on Bellewaerde and Hooge, just outside Ypres. The official records don’t state what happened to him but both British and German artillery were involved in heavy firing. It is likely that he was killed as his waggon was travelling to or from the front line.
Luckily, he has a marked grave in Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery. It is unlikely that he died here as my dad told me that he was originally buried where he died but later they moved him to an actual war cemetery. He is listed as ‘killed in action,’ rather than ‘died of wounds’ as might be expected that he received medical treatment.
My other great great grandfather was also in the War. His name was Walter Dewey.
Walter volunteered in November 1914 and having completed a period of training at Felixstowe, was seven months later drafted to the Western Front. After only eight days of active service, he was unfortunately killed in action in the La Bassee Sector on June 16th 1915.
He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and the General Service and Victory medals.
“The path of duty was the way to glory.”