The St Catherine’s Association organised an inaugural trip to the First World War Battlefields earlier this year. Fifty five Association members (comprising current and former parents, Governors, staff, Old Girls and friends) travelled to the Ypres Salient in Belgium over the weekend of 7th/8th March 2009. Despite few people knowing each other prior to setting off, there was a friendly and comradely atmosphere all weekend with plenty of laughter and good spirits despite the sombre subject of our visit.
The group was very ably led by Andrew Thompson of Eyewitness Tours. As a former history teacher with over twenty years’ experience leading parties to the Battlefields, Andy was able to share his specialist knowledge of the area and the Great War with the group.
Sites visited included Essex Farm British Cemetery, Hill 62, Vancouver Corner, Langemarck German Cemetery, the Menin Gate, Bayernwald, Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery and the Pool of Peace, Varlet Farm, Poelcapelle British Cemetery and Tyne Cot British Cemetery.
A wreath was laid on behalf of the St Catherine’s Association at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres on the Saturday evening. The wreath bearers were Rosemary Christophers (Munn)(1960), Richard Christophers, Elisabeth Reed (Newnham)(1949) and Toppy Wharton (1985). Caroline Rose, Director of Staff, read the Citation at the Ceremony.
The tour gave us all a profoundly moving and informative weekend. The coach was comfortable and the hotel and all meals taken over the weekend excellent. Messages of appreciation received from party members tell the story best and many have already expressed their wish to join a follow up tour to The Somme next year.