Report from Mrs Letham and Mrs Fitzpatrick, with additional [more interesting] contributions from Ms O’Neill, Ms Broughton and Ms Togneri
Our Battalion was dispatched from the military base in Motherwell at precisely 2100 hours, accompanied by General Sam. After a few days capturing reconnaissance intelligence in German Occupied France, we reached our destination: Belgium.
Ms O’Neill: On the 4th June two bus loads of over-excited pupils and already tired teachers left Our Lady’s High departing for France and Belgium.
Ms Broughton: On arriving at the school, we were told that this wasn’t a holiday, it was a life changing experience. We were no longer a group of pupils, we were the 2nd Our Lady’s High School Pals Battalion. We were going to relive the tragedy of World War I. We waved goodbye to our families just the same way the soldiers of 1914 did and then we were off. We travelled during the night to Dover where we got the ferry to Calais.
Ms Togneri: Thinking back, the journey was long and excruciating, but of course no-one noticed: we were all too busy singing, laughing and generally causing a riot due to our excitement. We arrived in Paris the following day, and spent the next two days there.
Ms Broughton: As soon as we arrived in Paris we were given a moment to change and then we were off to the phenomenal Eiffel Tower.
Ms Togneri: During our time there, we visited the Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower, took a boat trip down the River Seine and went shopping to buy souvenirs for loved ones. Personally going to the top of the Eiffel Tower was without a doubt my favourite. I was so scared yet fascinated.
Ms Broughton: On the same night, we were caught in a rainstorm and had to go in an underground for shelter. Eventually we arrived back at the hotel wet and cold but laughing at the experience
Ms O’Neill: On our last night in Paris we were given free time to visit some shops. They sold lots of little souvenirs and ‘I Love Paris’ memorabilia. Each shop you entered swore they could offer you the best deal, and if brave enough, you were able to haggle with the shop owner to try and get an even cheaper price. Out on the streets, artists with their canvases approach you ready to draw you your very own portrait. Each street has another handful of cafes with pastries smelling yummy.
With great honour and respect, we passed into the battlefield linked with the blackest day in British military history, The Somme. Our Company was inspired by the bravery, courage and honour of those soldiers, over 400,00 of them, who died during that battle.
Ms Togneri: It seemed like no time at all until we were on our travels to Belgium. During this bus journey we prepared ourselves for the emotional next few days we knew we had to face before us.
Ms Broughton: In Belgium, we saw many war memorials that I will never forget and had opportunities to walk through trenches that have been in the exact same condition that they were in during the War.
We saw cemeteries of British, French and German soldiers. There were many differences between the two enemies resting places.
Ms Togneri: France and Belgium, or as we called it Frelgium was an unforgettable experience for my classmates and I. Singing war songs on our travels, getting a taste of the French lifestyle, visiting cemeteries and memorials of those who fought in World War I, I will not forget any of it.
Ms Broughton: eventually our journey came to an end and we were home with our families. However, our thoughts went to the people that never returned: the dead and missing of the Somme.