On the evening of Tuesday 28th March, eighteen S4 and fourteen S5 pupils departed from Lenzie Academy on the school’s annual Great War Battlefields trip to France and Belgium. The trip provided us with a greater insight and deeper understanding of the events of the Great War, as well as its consequences and impact. Nothing compares to actually being where history was made to get a better understanding and appreciation of what actually happened. On Wednesday, after an overnight coach and ferry journey from Lenzie to Calais, we visited Faubourg d’Amiens British Cemetery near Arras to pay our respects to Harry A Hayworth who is buried there. He was Junior Dux of Lenzie Academy in 1911 and then Senior Dux in 1913. His brother, Frederick, is also remembered in this cemetery on the memorial wall as he is one of the many thousands who have no known grave. Louise McCracken and David Thornton placed a plaque, made for us by Mr Devine of DET, at his grave to mark our visit. We also visited the French National Memorial at Notre Dame de Lorette and Vimy Ridge, the Canadian National Memorial. Here we explored the trench system that still exists to this day. This allowed us to see the layout of the trench system and also appreciate just how close the Canadian and German trenches were to each other and therefore how close the soldiers were to their enemy when they were fighting. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was one part of the, perhaps, more well known Battle of Arras, the centenary of which was recently commemorated in Scotland, France and Canada. During Thursday we visited a number of sites including Contalmaison, where the McCrae’s Battalion memorial is located. This linked with what we had previously learned about Pals’ Battalions and their role in recruitment during the early years of the War; La Boisselle, a massive crater that was the result a of several huge mines being detonated on the morning of 1 st July 1916, the first day of the infamous Battle of the Somme; and Newfoundland Memorial Park where the trench lines remain preserved and look very different to those we’d seen the day before at Vimy. At the very imposing Thiepval Memorial to the Missing we paused to remember the five former pupils of Lenzie Academy, Sgt Hugh Adam, Sgt James Baird, Private J Cochrane, AB James Kincaid and Captain Thomas Russell, whose names are recorded on this memorial because they have no known grave and Owen Hill and Abby Reid placed a poppy cross near the Stone of Remembrance. We also visited the Historial de la Grande Guerre museum in Péronne which was very informative and the exhibits take visitors through the War in chronological order. Friday saw us in the Passchendaele area which was particularly relevant as July 31st this year is the centenary of the beginning of the battle known as the Third Ypres, or Passchendaele. Our first stop was the Passchendaele 1917 museum on the outskirts of Ypres. Here we saw a variety of different exhibits and some of us tried our hand at lifting a replica of a soldier’s kit bag - no mean feat as it weighed about 30kgs! We then visited Frezenberg Ridge, where the Frezenberg Scottish Monument is located. This memorial is in remembrance of all those of Scots decent who died in the Great War. It also has a Lenzie connection because one of the men responsible for it being built is a former pupil of our school, Mr John Sutherland, who now lives in Ypres. Lucy Fleming and Niall Turner placed a poppy cross at the base of the monument to commemorate our visit. The Island of Ireland Peace Park, Essex Farm Cemetery, where John McCrae wrote the poem, In Flanders Fields; and the Brooding Soldier Canadian Memorial which commemorates those who died during the first gas attack in 1915, were also on our itinerary for that day. We then we had time in the town of Ypres where we were warmly welcomed, and entertained, by Hans and Stephanie the proprietors of the Leonidas chocolate shop. We bought lots of chocolate from them – some of which may have made it back home!! Our final visit before dinner was to the In Flanders Fields Museum which was very interesting and informative and allowed us to see more artefacts and film clips from the War. After dinner we attended the solemn and moving Last Post Ceremony at The Menin Gate. This ceremony takes place every evening of the year at precisely 8pm. Three pupils, Ross Dewar, Arran Greig and Beth Seggie, laid a wreath in remembrance of the sixty seven former pupils and staff of Lenzie Academy who died in the War. Beth also had the honour of reciting the exhortation “They shall grow not old….” On the last day, before we headed to the very picturesque mediaeval city of Brugge, we visited the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world, Tyne Cot. It was an awesome and humbling sight. The cemetery contains the graves of nearly 12,000 servicemen and the memorial wall includes the names of approximately 35,000 British and New Zealand servicemen who died in the Ypres Salient area but who have no known grave. The cemetery has been described as a ‘silent city’ and we could appreciate why, seeing row upon row of gravestones, every one representing a life lost and a future denied to that individual. Adam Barbour and Morgan Lamont placed a poppy cross at the base of the Cross of Sacrifice to commemorate our visit and remember the soldiers’ sacrifice. Thereafter we visited Harry Patch’s memorial plaque. He was the last surviving British ‘Tommy’ from the War when he died, aged 111, in 2009. Yasmin McCotter and Kyle McPhee placed a poppy cross beside the plaque to commemorate our visit. Our final stop was Langemark, one of the largest German cemeteries in Belgium. Here Heather Cunningham, Katherine Davidson, Georgia McKinney and Genie Metzger laid a wreath in remembrance of not just the British soldiers who lost their lives, but also, in the spirit of reconciliation, the German ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country too. In Brugge we were given free time to explore and buy even more Belgian chocolate to bring home to friends and family, if we didn’t eat it first! On the drive from Brugge to Calais we were entertained by the annual ‘Bunny Awards’ ceremony. This was a great laugh and we thoroughly enjoyed the banter and the prizes, chocolate bunnies, obviously!! We learned lots of interesting historical facts during the trip and it helped us to better appreciate the impact the War had on the soldiers and their families. The trip was informative, educational, humbling and thoroughly enjoyed by all of us who participated on it and we are grateful to Ms Fordyce, Mr Park, Ms Shaw and Mr Ion for taking us.