Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Year 13 English WW1 Battlefields Trip

Year 13 students travelled to France and Belgium to enrich their WW1 knowledge for A level English literature

From 27-29th September, 25 Year 13 students travelled to France and Belgium to deepen
their understanding of the First World War literature they are studying for their
English A Level.
On Friday we visited the town of Amiens where part of the novel Birdsong is set and
visited a number of sites featured in the novel, reading relevant extracts.
On Saturday and Sunday we visited a number of battle sites and reflected on those who
fought and died in the war. We went to Sunken Lane and stood in the location of the
famous photograph of soldiers of the East Lancashire Regiment on the morning of 1st
July 1916, before climbing the bank into the field, much as those soldiers did 103 years
ago, and reading personal accounts and poems. We visited the Thiepval Memorial which
commemorates those killed in the Somme who have no known grave. Amongst the nearly
74,000 names engraved on the monument are six Old Borlasians. We went and located
their names, read about their lives, and left a cross of remembrance for each. Later in the
day we visited the Arras Memorial, which commemorates those killed in that area who also
have no known grave. Here we located the name of Old Boralsian, Second Lieutenant Basil
Horsfall, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, and read the letter from his commanding
officer to his parents which explained his heroism. We also sought out, and learned about,
four other OBs commemorated there, including two members of the Royal Flying Corps,
leaving a cross of remembrance for each. At every site we visited we read extracts and
poems which brought to life the experiences of those who had fought there, and this
literature truly conveyed the destruction and horror of war. In addition, seeing artefacts
at the Passchendaele museum and walking through the trenches there, brought home to
us how ordinary these fallen soldiers were.This was underlined by the personal stories of some of those on the trip. At Arras, Callum told us about his great grandfather, who was wounded near Arras in 1917 and sent back to England for medical treatment, where he fell in love with, and married, his nurse. Maya told us about her great, great grandfather who was sadly killed in the battle of Passchendaele, and read us a wonderful letter he had written to his family. And at Vancouver Corner, Ruby read us a very moving poem about the war, written by her grandfather. Bringing all of these fallen soldiers to life made us reflect on how familiar they were - they, too, were Borlasians, young men, writers, fathers and sons, dragged into a horrific conflict. This, above all, is what all of us will take away from the trip, from the literature, letters and biographies we read at each memorial and museum.
Tara Brogan (Year 13)