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Public Services Students visit The Somme

Following the successful Remembrance Parade led by our Public Services students, the Public Services faculty arranged a visit to the Somme. The trip also linked nicely with their Public Service unit ‘War and Conflict’.

Students visited two memorials, the first of which was Newfoundland Memorial Park, a site on the Somme battlefield near to Beaumont Hamel. The land was purchased by the Dominion of Newfoundland after the First World War. It was named after the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which had provided one battalion of 800 men to serve with the British and Commonwealth Armies. It played a tragic part in the action of 1 July 1916 and is remembered through the creation of this memorial park. The site is also a memorial to all the Newfoundlanders who fought in the First World War, most particularly those who have no known grave.  The Battle of the Somme was the regiment's first major engagement, and during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the regiment was all but wiped out.

Students behaviour on this visit was very respectful as the tour guide described the battle which took place on July 1916.  Students were visibly moved by the story (especially of Eric Ruddell) who lost both his brothers in the battle and suffered from Survivor Guilt for the rest of his life. He struggled with the fact that he has survived yet so many of his friends and relatives did not.

The students also visited the memorial at Thiepval. This memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916. 

The visit appeared to really strike a chord with the students; Anthony Kerry-Wright said “visiting the Somme where our Great Army fought the Great War was a once in a lifetime experience!”. Fellow student Chitchalena Charvetto agreed and said “I had an amazing experience. The visit enabled me to gain more knowledge about those who lost their lives for us in the Great War. I personally cannot wait to revisit.”