Old Persean commemorated on Perse Battlefields tour
17 Apr 2018
The Perse history department and 57 Year 9 pupils travelled to Belgium and France over the Easter holiday on the annual Battlefields tour.
The tour party spent two days in the Ypres Salient, visiting sites such as Tyne Cot Cemetery, Essex Farm, Langemark German Cemetery, Sanctuary Wood and the Menin Gate in Ypres.
As always, the tour party attended the Last Post Ceremony in Ypres and the final sites visited on the tour were the cells and shooting post in Poperinge, followed fittingly by Talbot House, where soldiers convalesced and found some solace away from the front.
On the second day the party visited the Somme battlefields and focused on the events of 1 July 1916, the first day of the Somme offensive and the worst in British military history.
The pupils learnt about all the reasons for the many disasters of 1 July and were given an in-depth guided tour at Thiepval Wood, from where the Ulster Division launched their attack on German lines.
Visits to Lochnagar Crater, Thiepval Memorial and Newfoundland Park offered the pupils the opportunity to envisage exactly what went wrong for the British and British Empire troops and also begin to comprehend the incredible intricacy and efficacy of the German defensive system that was able to nullify the British attacks so absolutely in some sectors.
On the final day the party commemorated Old Persean Arthur John Gray, who is buried in Buffs Road Cemetery near to Ypres. Arthur joined the Suffolk Yeomanry at the outbreak of war and took a commission in The Cambridgeshire Regiment.
He was quickly promoted and reached the rank of Captain. Arthur was also an exceptional draughtsman and some of his reproductions were considered fit for acceptance as part of the Royal Collection.
Arthur was aged 26 when he was killed by German machine gun fire on 31 July 1917, the first day of the Passchendaele offensive.