Year 10 History enthusiasts lay wreath at WW1 monument, the Menin Gate

 A history trip touring WW1 battlefields in Belgium turned into an even more memorable for a Year 10 student, when he was chosen to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate memorial to British World War One soldiers.

Rares Maglan said: ‘For me laying down the wreath was the greatest honour of my life. To place it where all the fallen soldiers names are shown is something that is so respectful, for me and for the community, and a once in a lifetime experience.'

The ceremony, which takes place every single night of the year at 8pm, is attended by buglers from the Ypres volunteer Fire Brigade, who sound the ‘Last Post’ before a minute’s silence is held to reflect on the sacrifice of those lost.

He continued: ‘It was amazing to be the ambassador for us because I know a lot of people don’t get the chance to visit Menin Gate and the other WW1 monuments.’

Classmate Emil Ganea was fascinated by the trenches they visited and grateful for the insight the trip provided.  

‘When we saw the battlefields, the graves and were shown the trenches, we got a new perspective. It’s not just a hole where they fight, it’s their home, they had to live there. It shows the hardships and the challenges they had to face.  We saw some that were blown up and there were ones that had been rebuilt as the perfect versions. There was lots of strategy and thought behind the trenches.’

It was a really good experience because we could see the war from both sides and this has opened up our thinking about the similarities and differences between our armed forces, their management, their equipment and much more. ‘

 

During the three-day tour of the Western Front the students also visited museums, battlefield sites, memorials and cemeteries including Lochnagar Crater, Ulster Memorial Tower, and the Commonwealth War Grave sites of the Thiepval Memorial in the Somme, France, and Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium.  

Rares spoke of the present unstable world climate and the need for us as a human race to work together to avoid further conflict.

‘I think we need to be careful and learn from the past as we could right now be on the brink of war but we could stop the spark of war igniting now if we think of ourselves as brothers and sisters and we should not have imaginary borders that prevent us from being a united and global community.’

The trip was part of the government funded First World War National Centenary Education Programme. Now they are back, the students will embark on the Legacy 110 project, which is designed to encourage pupils to reach out into their local communities and create a lasting legacy for the First World War Centenary.