In the early hours of Sunday, 60 Fourths alongside 6 teachers left for Ypres, Belgium in the most luxurious double decker bus imaginable. After a few hours of driving, a trip on the Eurotunnel and a brief lecture from our seasoned guide on the seatbelt laws of France and Belgium, we approached Bayernwald (Bavarian Wood), to see a replication of the supply trenches of the German army, connected to the original bunkers and listening shafts, though through no fault of anyone the gate had deep issues beyond human comprehension, leading to it taking longer for the group to get in than the time spent looking around, but most still felt it as one of the more interesting destinations of the trip. We then headed towards the town of Ypres for a long-awaited lunch beside the Menin Gate Memorial. We then left Ypres to go to Essex Farm Cemetary, which is based beside one of the remaining dressing stations a few hundred metres from the front line. Upon returning to Ypres we looked around the ‘In Flander’s Fields’ exhibition, which presented a large amount of uniforms and was notably interactive. Following supper, we went to the daily ceremony at the Menin Gate, to commemorate those lost defending the town. We arrived at the Chateau at roughly 10pm.
The morning began with a “hands on” session with our guide, Tony, showing us various artefacts and replicas, including a personal highlight of mine the Small Magazine Lee Enfield (or Smelly) 303 Rifle. After a rigorous session with Tony telling us about the artefacts we were actually allowed to handle the pristine World War 1 artefacts in person – a right reserved for an exclusive group of historians. Afterwards, 60 Carthusians jumped aboard the bus and went to a site to behold – Hill 60. The battle at hill 60 defined whether or not the town of Ypres would be taken and it was a very important place for the residents of Ypres and their neighbours; with them decorating the place with war memorials, defiantly one of the more sentimental place that we visited. The last place on the itinerary was the Passchendaele museum; it was without doubt the highlight of the trip with the dedicated people there recreating a trench and the bunker. This particular part of the trip really put how it was in context for me as it truly brought it to life. After and interesting hour at the museum the 60 fatigued Carthusians got on the bus home, to enjoy a four hour delay in the terminal, to return home at two in the morning.