Students pay tribute to First World War soldier from Bedford during battlefields tour

Julia Cox at the Menin Gate
Julia Cox at the Menin Gate

Three students have represented their school on a national tour of First World War battlefields.

The year 11 history students at Biddenham International School and Sports College visited Ypres, laid a wreath at the Menin Gate and toured the Somme battlefields

Julia Cox, who was selected to represent the schools and lay the wreath at the Menin Gate at the Last Post, said: “This would have made my grandad so proud.”

The students also found a soldier from Bedford, Percy Ibbott, who lived at 63 Gywn Street, who died during the war, and laid a cross on his grave.

All three students will be part of the Legacy 110 project, which aims to work to engage each of them with 110 people, and creating more understanding of the First World War amongst local people while learning.

Ben Ashton said: “This visit has really made the whole experience of war come alive for me and appreciate what the soldiers must have gone through.”

Maria Zeb said: “This has been an amazing experience, one I’d never have had the opportunity to do.”

If every student who has gone on the Battlefield tours does this it will represent the 880,000 allied soldiers killed in WW1.

Clare Warburton, assistant headteacher and history specialist, said: “Visiting the battlefields was an amazing experience. The places visited were designed to make us think about not only the enormity but also the personal, from the huge Theipval Memorial on the Somme to the simple entrance to Lijssenthoek cemetery in Belgium where each stick in the ground lining the path to the entrance showed the number of casualties daily from 1914-18. Seeing our Bedford soldier, Percy Ibbott, and where he was buried brought it home that someone who had walked the same streets we did in Bedford had sacrificed all for us.”

The tour was government funded and organised as part of the centenary celebrations for WW1. It is part of a four-year project for two students in every school in the country to attend a battlefields tour.

Schools who reach out to significant numbers will be invited to a celebration/commemoration of WW1 at Westminster Abbey later in the year.