Search

First World War centenary: Reporter heads off on battlefields trip

08:00 07 February 2015

A British soldier paying his respects at the grave of a comrade. Picture: PA

A British soldier paying his respects at the grave of a comrade. Picture: PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sixteen million deaths, 20 million wounded, six million missing. These are the cold, stark facts of the Great War, the world’s first truly modern conflict.

British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered, winter landscape along the River Somme in late 1916 after the close of the Allied offensive. [Picture: PA]British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered, winter landscape along the River Somme in late 1916 after the close of the Allied offensive. [Picture: PA]

More than 100 years ago, thousands of soldiers of all classes and nationalities marched off into death, with many more returning home with life-changing injuries – both physical and mental.

The figures convey the huge scale of the war, but cannot invoke the horrors experienced by all those involved, whether it be the dehumanisation of trench warfare, or the numbness the soldiers felt after seeing so many of their comrades mutilated.

But the battlefields which saw so much bloodshed can still tell these most harrowing and powerful stories, as I am to experience first-hand.

Today, I will be embarking upon a three-day tour of Ypres and the Somme, taking in cemeteries, museums and even death cells which housed British deserters before they were shot at dawn.

Undated file photo of British infantrymen marching towards the front lines in the River Somme valley. [Picture: PA]Undated file photo of British infantrymen marching towards the front lines in the River Somme valley. [Picture: PA]

I have joined a group taking part in the First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme, provided by the UCL Institute for Education and school tour operator Equity, part of Inspiring Learning.

The programme, funded by the government, is offering two pupils and one teacher from all state-funded secondary schools in England the chance to see the battlefields for themselves, until March 2019.

Yesterday I met with students and teachers from 14 London schools, who I will be accompanying on the trip.

During a half-day of activities, we handled artefacts such as a rifle and bayonet and discovered how to find soldiers on databases such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Over the next three days, the students will consider key questions and, after the programme has concluded, they will be encouraged to share the knowledge they have gleaned through initiative Legacy 110.

The scheme will see the young people undertake community projects and deliver them to at least 110 other people.

If every pupil does this, 888, 246 people will have been reached – the number of British and Commonwealth soldiers who died during the First World War.

For updates on the trip, see our website each morning.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories

16:42
A white van crashed into the Modern Medical Centre on Rush Green Road this afternoon. The surgery is now closed. Credit: Becky Kirby

Police have been called after a van crashed into a medical centre.

Essex Police crest Picture: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES/Ian Nicholson

A Romford man has been charged in connection with Essex Police’s Summer Anti-Drink and Drug Driving campaign at the weekend.

15:31
The Scout Association in Collier Row was flooded after the River Rom burst its banks last week

Nearly 100 beavers, cubs and scouts have been left without a home after a scout hall was completely flooded, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

12:10
Residents protesting against plans to build 32 affordable homes on a public green off New Zealand Way in Rainham. Pictured in February

The fate of a green space described by residents as a “gem” and earmarked for a housing development will be decided this week.

15:38
Metro Security is sponsoring the Excellent Customer Service Award at the Havering Business Awards. Here managing director Trevor Wallace collects the 2015 Innovation Award

Businesses are being given an extra week to bid for award success.

08:38
Armed Forces day parade in Romford town centre

Veterans joined dignitaries and cadets to march through Romford town centre on Saturday.

Parents outside Parsonage Farm school in Rainham last year opposing expansion plans

Plans to expand a primary school have been recommended for approval a year after councillors refused an almost identical previous request.

06:00
Jobs in education are available at jobs24.co.uk Picture: PA Images

Looking for work in the education sector? There are currently 12 positions available in Romford on Jobs24.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe