Axholme Academy students and staff pay respects to fallen at Western Front battlefields

Paying her respects to her great uncle, Ezra Haslam at Tyne Cot is Axholme Academy student Sophie Haslam.
Paying her respects to her great uncle, Ezra Haslam at Tyne Cot is Axholme Academy student Sophie Haslam.

Two students and a teacher from Axholme Academy in Crowle paid their respects to the war dead when they visited the battlefields of the Western Front.

Students Sophie Haslam and William McCullion and teacher, Richard Thorpe, spent four, provocative and exhausting days visiting war graves and memorials. The visit, part of the Government’s scheme to send representatives of every school to France/Belgium to see the war memorials for themselves, was a huge success.

Poignant moment as Sophie Haslam and William McCullion visit the war memorial at Thiepval.

Poignant moment as Sophie Haslam and William McCullion visit the war memorial at Thiepval.

The party visited sites around the town of Ypres. This was of particular significance for Sophie, whose great uncle was killed at Passchendaele in 1917.

He is memorialised at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, as is Dennis Richardson, a Crowle man killed while serving in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and Sophie said: “I was very moved to find a name so close to home on the memorial.”

On the second day the students visited the battlefield of the Somme, where so many Lincolnshire men died on the July 1 1916. They said the effects of the war were still being felt in the region today.

Teacher Richard Thorpe said: “During the visit the party saw artillery shells turned over by farmers and left for the French Army to dispose of. The day ended with a visit to the Thiepval Memorial, recording the names of over 72,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who died on The Somme.

“Each of us carried something different back from our visit. The huge scale of the losses on the one hand and the individual stories on the other.

“On the final day we went to the Lissenthoek military cemetery. Among the British and Commonwealth graves were those of Chinese labourers, which emphasised that it truly was a World War and will inspire us to work to create a project to memorialise our community and the part it played in the Great War.”