From Thursday 3 - Friday 4 November 39 pupils from The Ramsey Academy, Halstead travelled to the Ypres Salient to pay their respects to the fallen of WW1.
The group visited sites in and around Ypres, paying particular attention to sites connected to the fallen from Halstead.
At Lijssenthoek cemetery, a former casualty clearing station with 10,755 graves, the group visited the grave of Frank Maurice Copsey who was only 19 at the time of his death and lived on Parsonage Street before he enlisted.
The group went on to visit the Menin Gate and placed a wreath in memory of John Cook (of Tidings Hill), S Dring and William Fincham whom are listed on the walls and are amongst the 54,399 soldiers with no known grave. The Last Post Ceremony was a powerful experience for the pupils and included a recital from a bagpiper in addition to the normal sounding of the bugle. Hannah Birch, who took part in the ceremony commented; “You can’t explain it, but in that moment at The Last Post ceremony, you’re all there for similar reasons and just want to pay your respects personally. I will admit that I did get slightly upset when it was all over because it was so powerful. The huge respect which we all held for the band playing was phenomenal too; you could honestly have heard a pin drop at one point.”
On Friday the group visited Tyne Cot Memorial where a staggering 33,783 casualties are listed on the back panels, as they were unable to fit all of the names of the soldiers without graves on to the walls of the Menin Gate. Amongst the names is James Thomas Chaplin who died at age 25 and was from Plaistow Green Farm. The group laid a cross in memory of James and many were struck by the sheer size of the site.
The trip has definitely helped pupils to understand the scale of the horror during the Great War, and many were visibly shocked by the young age of many of the fallen soldiers. The conduct of the whole group was a credit to The Ramsey Academy.
To view photos from the trip just click here.