Earlier this month, Alison Rose, the British Ambassador to Belgium joined students and teachers for one day of their battlefield tour…
British Ambassador joins FWWCBTP on tour
Earlier this month, one of our tour groups was joined on their first day in Belgium by Alison Rose, the British Ambassador to Belgium. Alison has been a supporter of the programme since she took up her post last summer and was keen to join one of the groups on their battlefield tour.
The first stop made by the group was at Lijssenthoek Cemetery near Poperinge. Here the ambassador spoke briefly to the group about the significance of their visit and also about her role as Her Majesty’s representative in Belgium. Following this, the teachers and their students visited the cemetery where they learnt about the role of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and were taught how to ‘read’ a headstone. They went on find out about the stories behind some of the headstones and about the many different nationalities buried there.
The group then moved on to Poperinge to visit the ‘Death Cells’ and the memorial to those executed by the British Army in the First World War. After hearing some of the stories of those soldiers that were held here, the group discussed the role of military discipline in the First World War and compared it to today. Will, a serving soldier accompanyingthe tour, shared his own experiences including his treatment for PTSD which was not recognised in the First World War and led to some soldiers being punished unjustly.
After this the group visited the centre of Poperinge where they heard about how the war had affected the civilian population of the town during the war, gaining a deeper understanding of the impact that the war had on the Belgian people.
Following a meal at the hotel, where the ambassador spent her time talking with students and teachers, the group attended the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. Here two students accompanied the ambassador as she laid a wreath on behalf of the programme, in addition to the wreaths laid by student representatives from each coach on the tour.
The ambassador devoted a huge amount of her time to talking with students and teachers and we look forward to welcoming her on tour with us again in the future.