This week on Monday the 4th of June, students from Year 9 visited Verdun in France to see the Memorials and preserved ruins commemorating the fighting that took place during the First World War, particularly The Battle of Verdun which lasted 300 days and nights in 1916.
Firstly the students met with their tour guide, Rodger. The guide took the students around the sites all day and provided excellent insight into the battle and the wider context of World War One.
The students visited many memorials to fallen soldiers and important figures. The most moving and thought provoking site was the Ossuary, this is where the bones of unidentified soldiers are kept. The bones, both German and French were collected from various areas in which fighting took place, the bones were then placed in tombs that represented each area the bones were found in.
The students visited the top of the Ossuary’s tower which gave a fantastic view of Verdun and the Cemetery below. Students also visited the Chapel which had stained glass windows, each commemorating a fallen soldier.
Outside of the Ossuary was a vast Cemetery which was home to thousands of fallen French soldiers. The students visited the graves of both French soldiers and French foreign soldiers from North Africa who were buried in Islamic graves facing Mecca.
Following the visit to the cemetery the Students were taken to a French fort. The guide told the students that the fort was of great significance to both the German and French military’s during the war. Inside the fort the students were shown how the Gun turret operates and they were shown the site of a disaster involving German troops, which is now commemorated with a shrine.
During the day the students also visited a Museum which provided plenty of information about the battle and had many interesting artefacts such as French artillery cannons.
To finish off the day the Students visited “a lost village”, this was in fact one of Verdun’s 9 lost villages that were completely destroyed during the war. The villages are now marked only by road signs and memorials noting the locations of former buildings such as houses or shops.
Over all the trip was a great educational experience and the students learned a lot.
Written by students:
Jonty T & Julie D