War Poets of The Somme

War Poets of the Somme
March 21, 2019

The Somme, a battle that truly lives in infamy as one of the most significant battles in world history, particularly for those of us in the U.K. Resulting in over 300,000 fatalities and a total of 1.12 million casualties the Somme is recognised as one of the deadliest battles in human history. A significant period in British history, it is important to educate further generations about the atrocities of this battle, and the wider history of World War I and II.

The Somme is also renowned for its impact on literature, powerful war poetry written by the young men experiencing the atrocities first hand. These breath-taking and poignant pieces of writing are a profound reminder of the unbelievable horrors these young men experienced. The poems, beautifully written as they are a stark contrast to their subjects, content and the emotional accounts documenting the realities of war.

At Adaptable Travel we understand that delivering subjects like this to students can be difficult, balancing engagement with respect and consideration for the subject. However, we have devised some fantastic school trips which allow students to understand and appreciate the severity of these events and their significance in history. We have developed our tours to cater to English literature students, familiar with war poetry and the poets of the Somme. This familiarity is built upon and developed with fascinating Battlefield tours lead by wonderful guides, as well as several visits to museums, exhibitions and landmarks of the First World War. These visits will help illustrate elements of the text to students and strengthen their grasp of the poems being studied and the lives of the young men behind these powerful pieces.

As with all our tours, these are tailored to each group, ensuring the needs and requirements of each trip are reflected in visits and activities.  Read on to find out more about some of these experiences across Belgium and France and what these can offer your students.

Battlefield Guides

Our excellent Battlefield guides Steve Smith and Kevin Breyne are the cream of the crop combining years of passion and knowledge into each tour. All the guides we work with on our battlefield tours are Guild of Battle Guides registered, ensuring the best possible experience for you and your students. Our tour guides are friendly, patient and passionate about what they do, dedicated to delivering informative, engaging tours and keeping the memories of fallen soldiers alive through their work. These guides will accompany your group through the landmarks and locations which influenced soldiers such as John William Streets and Edward Tennant to create the powerful poetry of the First World War. From beginning to end our tour guides will be there to deliver fascinating insights to your students, answer any questions they may have and bring this poetry to life alongside the turbulent history which influenced it.

Hill 62 and Sanctuary Wood Museum

A battlefield guide will accompany your group to this fantastic location bringing it to life for your students. Preserved since 1918 this site is home to an original trench layout from the First World War. This site undoubtedly gives students the most accurate and true representation of conditions in these trenches. Visiting these trenches for themselves will give students a much more enhanced appreciation for the poetry influenced by life in trenches similar to those at Hill 62 and Sanctuary Wood Museum. With fantastic insights from your tour guide, the prior conditions of these trenches will be brought to life for your students, allowing them to effectively immerse themselves in the events which inspired the likes of John William Streets to compose their poems, experiencing the pieces at a much deeper level. Experiencing and understanding the conditions of life in the trenches will allow your students to understand how these young men were affected and bring these powerful accounts to life.

Great War Historical Museum

This museum will allow your students to put the agony and anguish suffered during the First World War into context on a wider scale. As a pivotal piece of British history, it is easy for students to overlook the other nations shaped and affected by this war. The Great War Historical Museum demonstrates artefacts, objects and relics from countries such as France and Germany, as well as the UK. As an event which happened over 100 years ago, it can be difficult for students to fully comprehend and envision, particularly when trying to digest the accounts and poetry. At this exhibit artefacts, photographs and personal possessions will act as visual cues illustrating elements from the poetry and breathing life into the texts being studied.

In Flanders Field Exhibition

This interactive museum is an essential visit for any educational trip to the area and the perfect start for groups covering Ypres and the Somme. The museum itself is housed in a renovated cloth hall, a significant reminder of the towns affected by the war, nestled amidst the history in the heart of Ypres. The museum will take students on a journey through the war starting with the invasion of Belgium and throughout the years fighting in the trenches, right through to the end of the war, recovery and remembrance. As the name implies this museum will trigger students to recall their knowledge of the famed poem by John McCrae as well as others such as John William Streets’ “A Soldier’s cemetery”. Through the relics, photographs and artefacts on display students will experience elements of the poems from the perspective of individuals impacted by the devastation around them. Students can digest elements of the poetry throughout the museum and broaden their understanding of this, combining new learning with knowledge of war poetry developed in the classroom. This experience not only gives students an opportunity to explore the origins of war poetry and the lives of soldiers themselves but gives them the opportunity to develop an understanding of the global effect of the First World War as well as explore the scale of this in settings local to themselves.

Lochnagar Crater

As teachers, we’re sure you recognise that visual elements can help bring subjects to life and aid learning for students. This hugely visual site will put the damage caused by war into perspective for your students, allowing them to marvel at its sheer size and see this first hand. This is not the only significance of this site, the explosion which caused the crater is regarded as playing a major role in the opening of the infamous battle at Somme. Students can understand the significance of military mining and other methods implemented in fighting during the war. In the present day the site is a peaceful landscape of rolling greenery, a far cry from its grisly past, numerous memorials and tributes will let students pause and reflect on the poems they are familiar with. This experience will allow students to understand elements of the poems studied, recognising the once brutal conditions of the surrounding site and the poets who documented these in their poetic accounts.

Menin Gate & The Last Post Ceremony

This is a moving and humbling site for students who visit, once again providing groups with an opportunity to digest and develop the significance behind the texts they are studying. A beautiful monument carved in white stone this structure pays tribute to the 54,000 fallen soldiers of the Ypres Salient who lay in unmarked graves. A site that provokes emotion and reflection in everyone who visits it promises to be a poignant and sentimental moment for students. Adaptable Travel can provide a wreath for your group to lay at the memorial in honour and remembrance of the brave young men who fought. Experiences like this will help students to understand the significance of this sacrifice in the context of their lives and the lives of generations to come.  

At Adaptable Travel, we are extremely proud of the tours and visits we offer to these sites and locations. It is important to ensure that atrocities like these go unforgotten and remain ever present in the lives of each generation. Allowing students, the opportunity to develop an understanding of the accounts and learn the significance of these events is incredibly important work and we are proud to help teachers achieve this. If you would like to find out more information about school trips to Ypres and the Somme and how these can benefit your English and performing arts students, get in touch with Adaptable Travel today.