September 17 2014 Latest news:
Beth Wyatt, Reporter
Thursday, May 15, 2014
The sacrifices of soldiers who lost life and limb in the trenches of the First World War have been remembered by schoolchildren.
Pupils from Abbs Cross Academy and Arts College visited the battlefields of the Somme in northern France to pay their respects.
Led by head of history Andrew Mallett, the 45-strong group of Year 11s were taken to Vimy Ridge, the Lochnagar Crater and Thiepval.
At the Thiepval Memorial, student Daniel Clubb laid a wreath on behalf of the school, which is in Abbs Cross Lane, Hornchurch.
Pupil Jennifer Randall, 16, said: “It was truly humbling and inspiring to see the battlefields where our soldiers gave our lives for us.”
George Tarling, 16, said: “It was a very sobering experience. Before we went to the Somme it just seemed like a story, but this visit made it much more real.”
The group’s activities included walking through trenches, visiting a museum of First World War artefacts and another museum dedicated to soldiers from Newfoundland, Canada, who served during the conflict.
The academy’s deputy headteacher, Nigel Franceschi, said: “This visit emphasised how important it is for young people to gain a real awareness of the horror of the Battle of the Somme and of other battles of the First World War.
“Looking at the names of the soldiers on the graves, and of the 75,000 missing who are commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial, really brought home to the students how many lives were wasted and the incredibly young age of the soldiers, many barely older than the Year 11s themselves.
“Throughout the day, the students showed respect and humility and were a credit to their school and to the wider community of Havering.”