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Visit to the Somme

1916 was a time of heavy losses during the First World War. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, over 19,000 men of the Allied forces lost their lives. The Battle continued until November and the losses mounted up. Nine past pupils of the Royal Alexandra and Albert School died in the area and the bodies of seven of them have never been found.

Year 8 pupils were joined by Old Scholars and governors for a visit to the cemeteries of the nine fallen soldiers who had been at the School. The visit started at Ovillers Military Cemetery to see the grave of Rupert Percy Butler who was killed in action on 3rd July 1916 at the age of 22. The Headmaster led a short service at the graveside and a wreath was placed on the grave my Mr Gordon who had been a pupil at the School in the 1940s.

The group then visited the town of Albert where there is a WW1 museum. After a tour of the museum, pupils attended a presentation about life in the trenches and the weapons that were used in the war. One pupil tried on the uniform of a soldier, and others tried on the helmets of German, French and British soldiers.

Next was a visit to the grave of Francis Richard Merrick at Dartmoor Cemetery. Francis Merrick died of his wounds in September 2016 leaving a widow and two children. The final visit was to Thiepval Memorial which is where the 73,000 British and South African men who have no known grave are remembered. These lives were lost between 1916 and 1918 and seven past pupils of the Royal Alexandra and Albert School are remembered here.

Headmaster, Paul D Spencer Ellis said I feel it is important for current pupils to recognise the sacrifice made a hundred years ago by people who attended this school in the past. This is our third visit and our aim is to visit the graves of all past pupils by 2019.

16th June 2016

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