Battlefields Tour Pupils Pay Respect to Old Persean
Over half term the History Department took 71 Year 11 pupils on its annual Battlefields Tour to Belgium and France.
The trip included a tour of the key sites of the four major battles of Ypres, mainly focusing on the success of the British Army in the taking of the Messines Ridge in June 1917. A visit to the Somme and some of the sites which are synonymous with the disasters of the worst ever day in the history of the British Army, such as Newfoundland Memorial Park and Lochnagar Crater.
At the Thiepval Memorial two pupils were able to pay their respects to relatives who are commemorated on the walls of the Memorial.
The pupils also visited the new museum at the Thiepval Visitor Centre and saw Joe Sacco’s vast 60 metre-long mural depicting the tragic events of 1 July 1916.
Trips to Colonel Driant’s HQ, the American Cemetery at Romagne Vauquois and the incredible subterranean world at the Butte de Vauquois were also part of the experience.
On the final day the team travelled back up to the Somme to visit Ulster Tower and Mill Road Cemetery, the site of the infamous German stronghold, the Schwaben Redoubt. This was a first day objective for the British Army and was initially captured by the Ulster Division, only to be lost later in the day to a German counterattack. It was here, over three months later on 14 October 1916, that Old Persean Alfred Royal Bradford was killed assaulting the redoubt. Bradford was part of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, who attacked the north side of the redoubt and managed to successfully capture it with the Black Watch and the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
The last trip of the tour was at Lonsdale Cemetery, where pupils visited Bradford’s grave and laid a wreath on behalf of the school.
As his Major wrote following Bradford’s death: ‘By the loss of your son the regiment losses one of the bravest and coolest soldiers that ever walked. He had won the love and admiration of all ranks by his cheerfulness and coolness under the most trying conditions, particularly on the night when he made repeated efforts to rescue Captain Sir Guy Butlin, Captain Adam, and Mr Shaw. It is difficult to express to you the sorrow of the whole regiment.’