Euroculture School Tours

'Poignant School Trips to Remember'

WWI Battlefields Study Tours

1914-2014 - 100 Years Not to Forget

Tours of the Great War Battlefields of Northern France have long been a staple of school trips. Often an annual event for many schools they remain one of the key features of an academic year - in spite of the growing distance in time since the tragic events that define the region took place.

The interest in this period shows no sign of abating and have understandably intensified during the current Centenary Commemorations taking place between 2014 and 2018. Any school planning a trip should plan ahead and book early as demand is higher than usual. Please get in touch with us if you would like to know more or check out our sample tour programme here.

A Learning Opportunity Not to be Missed

A trip to the Battlefields has the potential to leave an indelible impression on any pupil studying the conflict, providing insight to the sheer scale of the carnage that occurred whilst strengthening their human understanding of the experiences suffered by soldiers and civilians alike. More than 650 military cemeteries are scattered across the landscape as a visible reminder. Many schools will look for a personal or local angle to bring the most out of the experience for their pupils by connecting the tour to the classroom - locating the grave of a former pupil or an ancestor of a current pupil are among the most popular ideas.

The town of Arras, easily reached from the Channel Ports, is home to the Wellington Quarry, a recently opened attraction telling the story of subterranean life for the thousands of British soldiers who lived in former underground quarries which were adapted for strategic purposes in 1916.

We especially recommend a tour of the Circuit of Remembrance and memorial sites of the Somme battlefields, setting off from the educational L'Historial de la Grande Guerre and taking in the Ulster Tower, the Thiepval Monument and Visitor Centre, the Lochnagar Crater and several other important sites remembering the role of the Commonwealth Nations during the hostilities.

Wipers and the Passion Dale - Across the border to Belgium

A short drive across the border into Belgium, searching for your surname amongst the tens of thousands carved into the walls of the Menin Gate ‘Memorial to the Missing’ is a sobering exercise, whilst the Last Post ceremony is a powerful occasion. This daily rite began in 1927 and is attended by several hundreds of visitors and locals alike standing in respectful silence every evening at 8pm, without fail. Euroculture can arrange for your school to lay a wreath as part of the ceremony here, an activity that can provide a memorable and poignant exercise for the class.

Elsewhere in Ypres we can visit the In Flanders Fields Museum with its excellent interactive and educational exhibits. Here pupils can register a few personal details on a poppy wristband and then hear wartime stories based on their profile. As well as exhibits of uniforms, recruitment posters and trench warfare, this museum really excels in revealing alternative aspects of life, with an emphasis on the affect of war on the local Belgian communities, many of the population forced to leave the country as refugees, and the rebuilding exercise that took place in the years after.

In the surrounding Belgian countryside, a coach tour can also visit several important sites including Sanctuary Wood, with its network of reconstructed trenches and relics, and the Tyne Cot Cemetery - the largest of all the Commonwealth War Grave Cemeteries providing the last resting place to nearly 12000 soldiers. Also of interest are the Essex Farm Cemetery where In Flanders Field war poet John McRae is laid to rest, and Talbot House, where British Tommies would get some brief respite away from the bombardment at the Front to relax, drink tea and seek solace.

From Tanks to Train - Approaching the Armistice

Occupied by the Germans for much of the Great War, the town of Cambrai was the site of two major battles in late 1917 and October 1918. The first is notable for the first use of tanks with the British making great advances over a few days. The progress of the tanks was short-lived as the Germans recovered their lost ground just as quick. However, it was a significant phase of the conflict which would be over a year later. An original British Mark IV Tank built in Lincoln, can today be seen in the nearby village of Flesquières. Also in the area, groups can visit the Maison Owen, a 2011 memorial to the British War Poet Wilfred Owen, who wrote his last letter home from his base at the Forester's House here in 1917.

November 2018 will see the Centenary of the signing of the Armistice that brought the end of the Great War. This took place in the forest outside Compiegne in Picardy. At the Armistice Museum, it is possible to visit a replica of the actual railway carriage that was used as the makeshift venue for this momentous occasion. The original coach was destroyed in Germany during the latter stages of the Second World War, but some remnants are also displayed. The same site - and carriage - was used by Hitler for the signing of the Second Armistice in 1940 formalising the Nazi occupation of France in the early stages of WW2. 

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