This is the third year that we have run a trip to the Battlefields with UIV and this year we focused on the Ypres area. 2017 commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, which was fought in and around Ypres.

The trip took place, during Enrichment Week, from 16th-18th October. On the trip the girls experienced a variety of different memorials, war graves and museums. In addition, the UIV were very keen to get involved in poetry reading, volunteering to model the different stages of gas mask development at Vancouver corner and even dressing up in replica uniform. Guides and staff alike were impressed with the engagement and thoughtfulness of the questions from all the girls.

One particular highlight of the trip was the visit to the biggest British war grave in the world, Tyne Cot, which is the resting place for more than 11,900 servicemen of the British Empire from the First World War. Here we laid a wreath at the plaque, commemorating the missing from the Wiltshire monument and the girls were all given a poppy cross to place at a soldier's grave.

In direct contrast to the rows of white headstones at Tyne Cot, the Germany cemetery of Langemark is much darker, with its black stones in the ground denoting the dead from Germany. It was a poignant reminder of the cost of war for all sides, including those who officially lost the war.

We were very fortunate to be able to observe the Menin Gate ceremony in Ypres itself. This happens every day of the year at 8pm where the last post is played and wreathes are laid. It has been this way since its completion in 1927, with the exception of the occupation period during World War Two, when the ceremony was not performed.

Whilst the numbers of the lost and wounded are always horrifying, I think that staff and students alike were very much moved by the more personal stories. Some girls helped with reading out letters from a soldier to his sweetheart that had recently been found in the attic of a relative. The poignancy of Edith expressing her joy at Geoff's impending leave was only exacerbated when we realised that we were stood at the monument to him and his fellow soldiers who were killed underground in mining warfare - and Edith never got see Geoff again.

Yet again, this was a fantastic trip which the girls benefitted from greatly, and we look forward to repeating it in the future.

Mrs Samantha Handy, Head of History, Government and Politics