Just before the February half term, pupils from Year 9 experienced the annual History trip in Normandy. Read Mr Keddie’s account below.
I was a bit concerned during the week before half term as storm Ciara battered the south coast. By 4.30am on the morning of Friday 14th February, however, the weather had calmed down. Our Year 9 pupils had a smooth morning crossing to Caen, visiting Pegasus Bridge (where the first British paratroopers landed on the night of 5th/6th June 1944) and settling into our accommodation a short walk from an enormous beach (part of the ‘Sword’ landing beach on the 6th June 1944 – D Day).
On Saturday we headed to Arromanches, where the remains of the artificial ‘Mulberry’ harbour are still clearly visible and where we saw an amazing film about the Normandy campaign. We went on to Pointe du Hoc, where the huge shell holes, bomb craters and concrete German defences made a big impact. We returned to our base via Omaha beach museum and cemetery, which was very sobering (just see the opening landing scene from the film Saving Private Ryan).
Sunday was our Caen day – there was a really good market with all kinds of stalls and the opportunity to practice our French, plus a visit to the ramparts of William the Conqueror’s 11th century castle, and to a stunning Norman Gothic church. We spent the afternoon at the Caen Peace Museum, probably the best coverage of the period between 1918 and 1945 that I know, which certainly provoked some excellent questions and interesting debates.
Monday was our Bayeux day – the tapestry was amazing and Bayeux cathedral with its stained glass and its painting of Saint Thomas Becket was very impressive. Free time in Bayeux to fill up on crepes, galettes, frites and fromage left us heading back to Caen for the late afternoon ferry. We caught the aftermath of storm Dennis, making it a memorably and bumpy sea crossing to Portsmouth, arriving back at Emanuel around 11.30pm having packed an awful lot into a very short time.
Very many thanks to everyone who went for being so helpful and making it such an enjoyable trip. Both the accommodation manager and the coach driver congratulated us for keeping rooms and coaches in such good order, so well done all of you!
Mr Keddie (Teacher of History, Head of Outdoor Pursuits)