A-Level English students recently returned from a four day Tour of the Western Front and the trip was packed full of literature, history and some very personal and emotional moments.
The Great War inspired a flourish of literature written by serving soldiers on the front line and those who were left behind. The literature produced was a channel for individuals to share, grieve and reflect on the horrors of war and the words written nearly 100 year ago that still resonate with people today amidst continued conflicts around the world.
Some of the most poignant parts of the visit were the opportunities to visit the resting places of the ancestors of students and staff. Often, due to the scale of war, we find it difficult to comprehend what happened during those four fatal years and the personal stories students heard during the visit enabled a greater understanding of the reality of war and the importance of remembrance.
The title of students’ poetry anthology, taken from a Vera Brittain poem, is ‘Scars upon my Heart’ and as we approach the centenary of the war the national consciousness is focused on ensuring that the memory of The Great War, and the ‘scar’ of war, continues to be the focus of our collective remembrance.
One particularly moving act of remembrance for the students was the Last Post ceremony at The Menin Gate in Ypres, a memorial to the missing soldiers of WW1. Ashleigh Weir, Alex Johnston, Jessica Hanney and Olivia Hantke laid a wreath on behalf of the school to respect the loss of life from The Great War and all other subsequent conflicts – our epitaph read ‘never such innocence, never before or since’.