Posted on: March 20, 2017
“Our first port of call was “the barracks”, where we were split into groups to go into the three stations. Our group went with our guide into a classroom, where we were told about a man called Robert Keal-Powell. We got to look at letters written by him and articles about him from when he was fighting in the First World War and saw many images of propaganda and the trenches.
We then entered a room filled with various uniforms and equipment from WW1 and WW2. A few of us got to wear the jackets and hats and dress up as soldiers and officers. We were educated on the various roles in the army and how they were reflected by the quality of the uniforms.
Finally, we got to see what it would have been like to live in the trenches and the kind of layout they would have been in. We saw the “bedrooms” of the soldiers that were really just the sides of the trenches and the medical ward, where we were taught about the various medical techniques used in the trenches. Furthermore, we were told about how the soldiers would attack, send messages, and fetch food, which was all very interesting.
Our second destination was the National Memorial Arboretum, which was a very calm and peaceful area filled with visitors who came to remember past relatives. The poignant serenity of the various memorials was stunning. There was a beautiful temple-like tribute atop of a hill dedicated to the many brave soldiers who lost their lives in conflict after 1945, who often get overshadowed by the soldiers of the World Wars. The architect who built the stunning memorial added in a shaft, where the sun shines through on the 11th hour of the 11th day of November and illuminates the centre wreath, making the whole thing that bit more special.
We also appreciated the ‘Shot at Dawn’ cenotaph, dedicated to all the equally brave soldiers who were shot by their own people due to being conscientious objectors, and refusing to fight. Many of the plaques said ‘Age Unknown’, often implying that the men were 16 or under.
We visited the newly added tribute to the many soldiers who fought and sadly lost their lives fighting in the Afghanistan war, opened by Prince Harry himself. The touching “Still-Born Baby Garden”, where parents left painted stones for their lost children, creating a rainbow of innocent names that should’ve had the life they deserved, stunned us all. This was very moving, as it is a common fear for women to either lose or be unable to have children. Overall, the Arboretum was very thought provoking, and we all left grateful for the lives we have been blessed with.”