World War 1
by Sarah Worsley
Sarah, from the Chase High School in Malvern, finds a possible relative on the memorial to the fallen at the Somme battlefield.
I think the thing that hit me most when visiting Belgium was the vast size and number of cemeteries and war memorials that there were.
There is one simple explanation for this: so many men lost there lives while fighting during the Great War.
We only visited a handful of sites - however this was enough to make me realise how devastating, and awful the war had been.
Whilst in France we visited the Thiepval memorial to the missing - this was both emotional, and also quite remarkable.
The memorial stood upon a ridge that had been a strategic point on the Somme battlefield.
Its surroundings were quite different from what it had been during the battle of the Somme.
It stood amongst the rural areas of France, and the atmosphere was peaceful and quiet - quite a contrast from the guns and sounds of battle, that had sounded here only 92 years ago.
The memorial was covered in names, commemorating 72,000 British and South African men who had lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme, which is known for one of the biggest losses in British history.
The men remembered on this memorial had no known grave, and therefore no one knew where their bodies lay, now hopefully peaceful, in the surrounding area.
A thing that made this visit even more special for me and others on the trip, was finding my surname amongst the names of those on the memorial.
I found my surname amid the South Lancashire battalion - I found later that this could have been one of my relatives.
It made you feel connected with the man that had fought so bravely, and yet had no known grave, and was someone I would never meet.
The sadness and significance of this memorial will remain in my memory, and others for a long time.
Another remarkable site we visited was The Menin gate at Ypres.
Menin Gate memorial
We had the chance to listen to the last post being played here to honour the 54,896 men recorded on the memorial who also had no known grave.
The single sound of the trumpet seemed to echo around the silent names carved on every wall of the Menin Gate.
When listening to this, I realised how much an impact the war had had, and I wondered how many of the men, whose names live on here, had left children and wives, and had actually died believing in fighting for their country.
This was the last site we visited, and perhaps the one that had the biggest impact on me.
Listening to the peaceful notes, and the surrounding silence of the people who had come to pay their respects, I knew that such a war as this should never be allowed to happen again.
last updated: 16/10/2008 at 10:20