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War Memorial
Wreaths at a War Memorial

From our Present, to their Past

A trip to France to see the sites and learn more of the history of the D Day landings.

School Details

Blake Valley Technology College from Hednesford, Cannock, Staffs took 28year 9 and y10 students to key sites in Normandy. 25 Y10 students visited the war graves in the area of Cannock Chase. They then spoke about their experiences to other Y9 and Y10 students, numbering about 150.

The Aims of the Project

The key aim of our journey to France was to give students an understanding of the reasons for the existence of the war cemeteries on Cannock Chase. They could then make links to the arena of war in Northern France.

Students were also to think about the causes of conflict and the effects of the conflict on combatants and non-combatants.

Students were to be asked to reflect on the sacrifices of those who were killed or injured in the war.

Project Activities

Students visited the war cemeteries of Cannock Chase and then listened to war poetry from the Second World War. They then walked towards the Peace Vista to reflect on the sacrifice of the soldiers and to think about the atmosphere of the area. When they returned to school, they created poetry that was displayed in the classroom.

Pegasus Bridge
Pegasus Bridge

Later in the year, students visited Northern France. They visited the cemetery at Bayeux, the church at St Mere Eglise and the landings site at Point Du Hoc and Arromanches. They were also able to see Pegasus Bridge.

Another aspect of the trip was to visit the Caen Peace Museum. Students were able to experience the “Descent to War”, so that they could understand the causes of the war by following a timeline through the 20th Century. This was a display that physically took them down a spiral, which displayed the tensions and the sparks which led to war. The students were particularly impressed with the whispering section, which echoed even the slightest whisper into a huge sound, thus showing how quickly rumour and propaganda can spread.

At the museum students were able to find out about the hardware of war, through looking at exhibits of weapons and vehicles. The films also amazed them, especially the footage of D-Day, which showed the Allies attack and the German response as the events of the day unfolded.


Students were very affected emotionally. On the visit to Cannock Chase students who have lived in the area all of their life realised the true meaning of these memorials. Likewise when we visited the cemetery at Bayeux, many students were in tears when they looked at the headstones of those killed in battle. They were particularly moved by the inscriptions from families. One student, Vicky, was celebrating her fifteenth birthday on this day. She found a stone, which was of a young boy who had died at the same age. This was a lesson that would never have been learnt in a classroom.

Students also created some material, such as PowerPoint displays. (I have included one example on disc). The visit was also shown on our school plasma screen. (I have included a copy of this too, needs to be played on a DVD player.) The school visit was also reported in the school newsletter that goes home to all parents.

Carolyn Lester-Holman

Head of Humanities
Blake Valley Technology College