Roding Valley students and staff return from "overwhelming" trip

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Students and staff looking at graves of fallen soldiers in the First World War Students and staff looking at graves of fallen soldiers in the First World War

A group of students have visited the battlefields of The Somme as part of their war poetry studies.

Roding Valley English pupils and staff returned from the trip to the infamous site “moved” and “overwhelmed” by what they had seen and experienced.

While in Belgium the students laid a wreath at a ceremony at Thiepval Memorial, which is the largest British memorial in the world.

Year nine student Doncho Atanassov said: “The number of graveyards packed with British soldiers was overwhelming.

“We visited a lot of battle sites and, with the help of our guides, imagined living through the horror of July 1, 1916, when largely inexperienced recruits went over the top to their almost certain death.

"The tragedy of the loss was brought home to us all when we realised that many of the dead soldiers were just a little older than us.”

Head of English, Louisea Routledge said: “It was an extremely moving experience for both staff and students.

“The trip brought home the fact that the First World War is not something that we study in history and English but a war that affected the soldiers, their families and whole nations.”

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