2016 is the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and to mark this significant anniversary the St Catherine’s Association organised a special Battlefields Trip.
At 7.30am on 1st July 1916, Haig famously sent his volunteer army over the top with the order to capture the enemy front line. The day ended in disaster with over 20,000 men killed or wounded in the first hour, and over 60,000 dead or dying by dusk. The British Army suffered more casualties than on any other day in its history.
This year, on the last weekend in April, 40 members of the Association headed for France for two days with an overnight stay in the beautiful town of Arras. The party included many alumnae, current and former parents and staff.
We were delighted to have the tour led by Andy Thompson, ex Headmaster and battlefields specialist, who was an amazing guide and really brought all of the events to life with interesting stories and anecdotes. It was fascinating to see the trenches, the layout of the battlefields and then hear the diary entries and poems written by those who fell there.
Many key sites were visited over the course of the weekend including the Lochnagar Crater, the Ulster Memorial, the Newfoundland Park Memorial and Mansell Copse. It was unbelievably moving at the Thiepval Memorial which is dedicated to those men whose bodies were never found and have no grave. A staggering 73,000 names are on this monument, and that is just for those from the Somme.
The weekend was thought provoking, informative, enjoyable and will live in everyone’s memory for a long time.