An Unforgettable Somme Battlefields Experience
Roadschooling | History | WW1 Battlefields Trip
How do you broach the topic of War with your children? What do you include or omit to try and help them engage more? What age do you start learning about this?
They shall not grow old
Well, we’ve decided to pull in the experts from The Battlefield Experience to help… taking a full day tour of the Somme with Jackie Bedford to try and add to our previous learning inYpres (WW1) and Juno Beach (WW2)
As we’ve continued our learning journey across Europe, we’ve pondered the earlier questions on how best to engage our children in this tough topic… especially as we believe they should remember the sacrifices of our previous generations….
Before deciding that a clear honest approach is best. Not sugar-coating or trivialising the sharper edges of war.. but offering an opportunity to ask questions, consider the feelings of those involved and ensure we offer a balanced perspective of both side’s sacrifices.
As we that are left grow old
The level of detail offered throughout the day started to ‘weave’ a richer context. Helping give both girls a perspective of the shape of the Somme landscape and why high positions were critically important (imagine 5 fingers of land like a hand) or how war can lead to creative output as a method of coping with the gripping reality of war (like Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings‘ or the Great Poets like Wilfred Owen )
Age shall not weary them
It seems almost amazing to write this now as the below list is seemingly endless, but the day was packed with new experiences from the moment we jumped into their minibus at 9am. On a cold October day complete with low lying fog and grey skies we enjoyed a wonderful audio tour that helped explain our journey that traced the path of the Somme offensive. Using an IPad with GPS overlay maps of the trenches to help pinpoint exactly where we were standing…
Nor the years condemn
To help others considering a visit, we listed the following sites, cemeteries, memorials and museums that we visited and what they offered us:-
- Vimy Ridge (most visual trench system, excellent example of the war landscape i.e craters)
- Thiepval Memorial Service (141 memorial services in 2016, fantastic child centred museum)
- Visit to Arras City Centre
- Wellington Quarry Museum (good museum, superb audio/visual guided walk in underground tunnels)
- Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont Hamel (child friendly museum, most accessible trenches)
- Lochnagar Mine Crater Memorial (graphic illustration of impact of tunnelling in WW1)
- The Windmill Site (easy to understand tank memorial & chance to find armaments in nearby field)
- Neuville-Saint-Vaast German cemetery (huge German cemetery for almost 45,000 soldiers)
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
It’s hard to over exaggerate just how much of an impact this had on the girls or the grandparents… or even us! Yet the retelling of the British Legion’s ‘Exhortation’ at the Thiepval Memorial Service simply say’s it all… perhaps even more significant as the girl’s great grandfather passed down the legacy of repeating this each day… We’re just so glad we’ve played our part in helping our girls understand and appreciate the sacrifices of both sides in WW1.
TOP TIP – IF you’re looking for a relative, try to find their medal record as this can be found for £3.50 or use sites such as this to help your search. Both girls have found this an important part of any visits to either the Somme or Ypres.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM