Grade 11 IB History students along with Grade 10 US History students visited Ieper and its environs last week. The purpose of the trip was to allow the students to witness at first hand the battle fields of Flanders. There is only so much that can be learned in the classroom, for example, we visited the remnants of trenches at Hill 62 – this gave the students a feel of life in the trenches. We visited the museum in Ieper which contains many artefacts from the Ieper salient.
The students also visited two cemeteries, one German and one British and commonwealth – they were able to see the differences between the two cemeteries – the sorrow of loss in the German cemetery and in the British cemetery more a focus on sacrifice for the country. The photograph show the group at Tyne Cot cemetery, the largest British and commonwealth cemetery in the world. On the wall behind them, listing the names of thousands of people with no known grave, is my great- grand father who was killed during an artillery attack in September 1917. There were almost 500,000 casualties during the third battle of Ieper during the late summer/autumn of 1917. The students were able to understand the geography of Ieper and the sheer devastation that occurred in Ieper.
By Ewan Macdonald, HS History teacher