A GROUP of students, parents and teachers from All Souls St Gabriels School in Charters Towers will soon be embarking on an emotional journey to visit the war memorials and battlefields of World War I in France and Turkey.
The group of 21 students and 12 parents and teachers will be leaving for London on March 30 from which they’ll cross the English Channel and watch the White Cliffs of Dover fade in the distance as they make their way to France as thousands of Australians did during the war.
Groups from the school have been making the trip biannually since 2011, and All Souls St Gabriels Deputy Headmaster Sam Kelly said the trip gives the students great insight into what their fellow Australian’s and in some cases relatives from generations past sacrificed to ensure the way of life they now enjoy.
“We’ll be visiting many of the war memorials where Australian soldiers are buried while learning about several of the major battlefields including Ypres, the Somme and Gallipoli where these brave men lost their lives,” she said.
“As an assignment each student has researched a fallen soldier who was killed in action during the fighting and will now attempt to locate the grave of the soldier they researched during the trip.
Students will also take part in the Commemorative Crosses Project, which is an initiative of the Australian War Memorial.
The concept for this project originated in late 2010, when a group of individuals based in Australia and Britain sought to pay their respects to those who had died while on active service, by placing a small wooden cross on war graves across former Western Front battlefields of Belgium and France.
The Australian War Memorial will broaden this project over the Centenary years, 2014 – 2018. It plans to draw on the commemorative experiences of schoolchildren visiting the Memorial by capturing, in the students’ own words, their individual reflections on those Australians who have sacrificed their lives in war and other conflicts.
These thoughts will take the form of short messages on small wooden crosses, which the Memorial will arrange to be laid throughout the Centenary period on war graves and memorials where Australian servicemen and women are buried in countries such as Turkey, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, Greece, South Africa and the Middle East.
The events of World War I and Australia’s involvement in the conflict hold special meaning for the school as All Souls' was established by the Bush Brotherhood of St Barnabas in 1920 as a memorial school to those that were killed in battle.
The school now endeavours to bring the spirit of service and the development of the whole person to each new generation that passes through the gates.
The group will also get to take in some of the most iconic tourist attractions in the world such as Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, the Grand Bazaar and the Hippodrome, before they return from their trip.