On the 10th September 2014, 30 students and four staff set off on the Tynecastle High school Centenary WW1 Battlefields Trip. Everyone was in agreement that it was a very special experience, particularly in the centenary year marking the outbreak of this terrible and momentous conflict. Amy Meechan one of the S5 students who took part, described her experiences:
“The battlefields trip to Belgium was very moving and interesting. We visited many cemeteries where the bodies of the soldiers that lost their lives in World War 1 are buried. We visited places that 100 years ago would have been where the battles took place e.g Newfoundland park which is owned by Canada because many Canadian soldiers were stationed there. This is where the battle of the Somme took place. We saw the Thiepval Memorial which is a memorial for all the missing of the battle of the Somme, there are 72,195 names on this memorial. We went bowling on the Friday night and that was a lot of fun. I learnt a lot about WW1 that I didn’t know before and it was an honour to pay respect to those who lost their lives fighting for their country. I would encourage anyone who gets the opportunity to go on a trip like this to take it because it is incredibly interesting.”
Four students were specially selected to be THS’s representatives and take part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. This ceremony has taken place every day at 8 o’clock since 1928 except when Belgium was occupied during WW2. The students selected were two S5s: James Gibson, Kristen Nayar; and two s4s: Matthew McLaughlin and Amber Lee. They were chosen as staff felt they had truly committed to the spirit of the trip and appeared to have gained the most from visiting the sites.
Some of the students who came on the trip have volunteered to pass on what they saw and experienced to the rest of the student body in a special assembly. We have also been asked to take part in a WW1 centenary memorial service taking place at the Gorgie Memorial Hall on the 11th of November. We hope to offer a future opportunity to take part in the this rewarding and valuable experience in 2016, which will also coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
Family history revealed on the Battlefields Trip
Milkolay Durczak in S5 along with his father did some research into his family’s involvement into WW1 prior to the trip. Milkolay managed to find out where his Great Grandfather’s remains were buried – Langemark German Cemetery. His Great Grandfather Kazimierz Saskowski fought on behalf of the Prussian army, he was a telegraphist and lost his life on 5th November 1918, 6 days before the end of the war. Milkolay found his name on the memorial in the Langemark Cemetary and was able to pay his respects on behalf of his family.