YOUNGSTERS from a Burton school will pay their respects to the dead of World War One when they make an emotional visit to one of the conflict’s best-known memorial sites.
Year Six children from Edge Hill Junior School, in Stapenhill, will lay a poppy wreath at the Thiepval Memorial, which commemorates more than 72,000 servicemen who died in the Battles of the Somme with no known graves.
The 28 children will visit the site, in the Picardie region of northern France, next week as part of a four-day ‘French experience’ tour.
Senior teaching assistant Sue Ellington is one of four staff who will give up their half term break to accompany the children.
She said: “Because the children are going to the Somme battlefield and next year is the centenary of the start of the war, we thought it would mean a bit more for them to lay a wreath rather than just go and look at a memorial.
“I don’t think they realise about the scale of what happened there – it’s something they have to go and see for themselves.
“It’s a very moving experience to see the memorial with so many names on it. It really makes you think.”
The trip will also include visits to a World War One musuem, goat farm, chocolatier and – perhaps most eagerly anticipated of all – Disneyland Paris.
It will also give the youngsters, who have been learning French for four years, the opportunity to practice the language with natives.
Mrs Ellington said: “The children pick up languages easier than adults do and they really enjoy it.
“The trip will offer them the chance to hear the French language being used and will be the first chance for many of them to experience something they might not have experienced without the trip.
“They are buzzing and are already counting down the hours, and I’m looking forward to seeing them flourishing, experiencing some time away from their families and really blossoming.”
The group is due to set off by coach on Monday, travelling by ferry to Calais and staying at an 18th century chateau in the town of Rue, converted for use by school groups.
The Thiepval Memorial, opened in 1932, is the largest British battle memorial in the world, bearing the names of those who died on the Somme between 1915 and 1918.