Pupils experience horrors of war

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Arbroath High School pupils have recently returned from a highly educational and emotional tour of Great War battlefields.

The 45 pupils and four members of the history department, led by John Anderson, spent five days touring the First World War battlefields of France and Belgium.

They visited the muddy trenches of Sanctuary Wood on the Ypres Salient and saw firsthand the ‘iron harvest’ of shells and equipment still being ploughed up.

The pupils crossed no man’s land at Newfoundland Park on the Somme and saw the enormous bomb crater at Lochnaggar.

The human cost of the Great War was brought home to the pupils when they visited the Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Poelkapelle grave site for unknown soldiers.

Special visits were also made to memorials and headstones associated with five of the 51 pupils who perished in the conflict, including Second Lieutenant J.F. Webster, after whom the Webster Memorial Theatre is named.

Shannon Thain, Rachael Milne, Jessica McIntosh, Ross Holder, Ailsa Wallace and Kate Swan researched their family connections to the war, the results of which were very emotional for those involved.

The tour was brought to a close on Wednesday, June 19, when they took part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate at Ypres.

The pupils were deeply affected by their trip. Daniel Jamieson said: “It made me realize the sheer number of people involved, which you don’t understand in class. When you see them more as just numbers and you see their names and graves you understand it much more.”

Classmate Rachael Milne added: “I can’t accurately describe it in words… it totally changed my views on life and me as a person. I loved every single second of it, I wish I could go back every year.”