Boys’ emotional visit to French war memorials

During the Summer Term of 2012, a group of our students made an emotional visit to cemeteries and wartime battlefields on a memorable trip to Normandy in France. During their five-day visit, pupils saw British, American and German soldiers’ cemeteries.

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Modern foreign languages teacher Mrs Groak said visiting the cemeteries and the D-Day landing sites, including Omaha Beach, helped the students better understand their Second World War studies.

She said: “The boys found the cemeteries both moving and fascinating and spent a long time reading every headstone.

“Some were particularly affected by the difference between the British and German graves, where there can be anything up to 11 or more bodies in one German plot.

“The German they had learnt this year helped them in reading these headstones.”

In the British cemetery, pupils searched for members of the East Yorkshire Regiment.

Mrs Groak said: “The boys looked for soldiers with their surnames so they could go home and find out if any were relations.

“It was great to see 12 and 13-year-old boys taking such an interest in their history and it made it all the more real by visiting the sights.”

The 43-strong group also visited Bayeux, Caen and Paris, visiting the Musée de la Tapisserie to see the Bayeux Tapestry, the Mémorial de Caen, a museum and war memorial commemorating the Second World War and the Battle for Caen, and enjoying a boat trip on the Seine and a visit to the Eiffel Tower.

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Mrs Groak said the annual trip is designed to help pupils become fully immersed in the language and culture of France.

She said: “The boys have work booklets to complete in French and English each day and all speaking has to be in French. It’s a trip that has run successfully for 14 years and it’s an ideal opportunity for the boys to be immersed in the language and culture of France. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the students got a lot from it. They were all really keen to speak French. They were really happy with themselves when they understood something and many were fascinated by the differences in culture.”

Mr Hodson, our headteacher, said: “The visit is a trip primarily to enable the pupils to communicate with local people in their native language and is very important in terms of students’ development and overall progression.  It is always very important to get real-life experience outside of the classroom, It’s all right reading about these things in text books but to experience the environment and atmosphere of the battlefields helps to put classroom learning into context.”

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