THEY may not have been able to see the artefacts from one of history’s most violent periods – but the effect was transformative all the same.
Pupils from the Royal Blind School have spoken of how the past was “brought to life” during a recent trip to First World War battlesites in France.
They said they would not forget the experience of handling unexploded shells, walking round massive blast craters and touching the graves of those who were killed.
And among the highlights was a visit to the McCrae’s Battalion Memorial Cairn – erected to commemorate Heart of Midlothian players and supporters who fought alongside soldiers of the 15th Royal Scots regiment.
The visit was organised by the Royal Blind School run by charity Royal Blind – the organisation chosen for this year’s Evening News Christmas Appeal.
The campaign is aiming to raise as much as possible to help provide vital equipment and funding for the many services the charity provides.
Pupil Reece Watt, 14, said: “If you don’t do things like this then you don’t get the real, live picture of what it was like there.”
The pupils took part in a joint French and history trip to Peronne in the Picardie region of northern France – from there venturing out to the Somme battlefield and the classrooms of Sacre-Coeur High School.
As well as practising French and building personal confidence, they received an opportunity to handle objects recovered from the places where millions fell during one of history’s deadliest conflicts.
Reece added: “We got the chance to walk around the crater created by an exploding shell. It took about ten minutes to walk round and really helped us realise how big it is.
“It was just young boys who died. They kept telling us that these people were just the same age as us. I think I’ll remember the cemeteries the most. We walked through the rows with the crosses. It was so silent.”
Jake Murray, 15, said: “It was just fascinating to know that someone had actually worn it in war. And it felt important to me that I was wearing it.”
History teacher Phil Deans said: “The trip was so important for them - I think it really brought home what they’d only read in books in the classroom.”