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Cookstown High School, Cookstown

Belgium/France Trip - June 2013

30th Sep 2013

In June this year a group of thirty pupils and three staff travelled to the battlefields of World War I in Belgium and France.

The group set off in the early hours of Monday 24th June to fly from Dublinairport to Brussels.  After a morning of travelling to our hotel in the town of Loin west Flanders, we visited our first historic sites on Monday afternoon; Langemark German Military Cemetery and Tyne Cot British Cemetery. The latter is the largest Commonwealth Cemetery in the world and contains the graves of over 11,000 British soldiers.

On Tuesday we left Belgium and crossed the border into France to the location of perhaps the most famous battle involving British soldiers in the Great War, the Battle of the Somme.  It was an awe-inspiring site to see the names of over 72,000 men who had been killed in battle but whose bodies had never been recovered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The following day the group explored the Ypres Salient and some pupils were able to visit the graves of relatives who had lost their lives in the war.  In some cases they were the first member of their family to do so.  In the evening, the school’s new Head Boy and Head Girl, Ian and Olivia, laid a wreath on behalf of the school during a service at the Menin Gate in Ieper whilst Nathan laid one on behalf of Cookstown Boys’ Brigade.

Thursday and Friday offered some free time for the group to visit the historical Belgian cities of Bruges and Brusselswhere some last minute gifts (and some Belgian chocolate for personal consumption!) were purchased before going back to the airport and heading home for the start of the summer holidays.

Thanks to all the pupils for making this trip a thoroughly enjoyable end to last year’s school term!