Parent Pay Parent Pay Search this website Open Mobile menu

Battlefields Experience 2024

Late in the evening of Wednesday 22nd May, a group of 39 pupils from Year 8 and Year 9 embarked upon the five-day Battlefields experience to Belgium and Northern France. They were accompanied by four staff and their tour guide from Mercat Tours International, Des Brogan. He informed them they were no longer a school group, but instead were to regard themselves as the 2nd Corpus Christi Pals Battalion – journeying to the Western Front as many others from Preston had done just over 100 years ago.

After the ferry crossing to Calais, the party spent the afternoon in the historic Belgian market town of Bruges, before heading to their hotel in Diksmuide. The next three days were spent immersing themselves in the history of the First World War, visiting battlefields, monuments, churches and graveyards – all the time building a gradual picture of the various battles and historical events which took place in the area known as the Ypres Salient. 

Friday saw the group visit the east of Ypres, close to the German lines. This included visiting the site of the infamous ‘Christmas Truce’ of 1914, and St Nicolas’ Church in Messines which is the home of the ‘Peace Bells’. On Saturday the party headed into Northern France and the Somme region, including the awe-inspiring memorials at Vimy Ridge and Thiepval. 

Finally, on Sunday, after a bilingual Flemish/English Mass in Diksmuide, it was time to approach the focus of the battles. The group marched down Passchendaele Ridge singing the songs the troops had sung, all the way to Tyne Cot Cemetry and entered the sacred city of Ypres, before paying their respects at the Menin Gate Ceremony (where two pupils laid a wreath on behalf of the school) and finally at our own, private ceremony as the sun went down. The group then returned to England, via Dunkirk, on the Monday.

During our time in the Ypres Salient, we were humbled to be able to reunite two of our pupils – Jack and Charlie – with two of their relatives who had lost their lives in the Great War. Another of our pupils – Matilda – revealed that a relative had his name written on the Menin Gate, but unfortunately we were unable to find his name due to the extensive renovation work which is taking place. Nevertheless we held him in our thoughts and prayers during the moving ceremony.

The group returned home on Monday, having learned a great deal. Des had promised that everyone would be changed by the experience, and as he disbanded the 2nd Corpus Christi Pals Battalion, it was evident that this was most certainly the case. Thank you to all the pupils who showed their respect for those who lost their lives while on this visit.  Thank you also to Des for being an incredible guide and teacher, and our wonderful driver Steve from Bibby’s of Ingleton, for whom genuinely nothing was too much. We are also grateful to our staff – Mr Chester, Mrs Culkin, Miss Mayo and Mr Warham – for their efforts in organising the trip and accompanying the group, including in their own half-term holiday.

We were able to ‘live tweet’ what the group did on our designated ‘X’ account @CCBattlefields (login required) where you can relive the experience. These include live streams and videos of a number of the ceremonies and remembrances the group participated in.

Together In One Body
Corpus Christi Catholic High School
St. Vincent’s Road, Fulwood, Preston PR2 8QY
Telephone: 01772 716912 Fax: 01772 718779 Email: