Bedales students trace WW1ancestors in historic visit to Battlefields

To mark the occasion of the WW1 Centenary, 77 Block 3 (Year 9) Bedales students conducted a History tour of The Battlefields of Belgium and France (Ypres and The Somme) to trace relatives and Bedalians who died during the war.

Accompanied by Bedales Head of History, Jonathan Selby, the students travelled down the Western Front, pausing at Notre Dame De Lorette (the French National First World War Cemetery) and the Canadian Monument and trenches at Vimy Ridge. The students visited the market town of Arras, near to the location where poet Edward Thomas died, before exploring the battlefield area of The Somme, visiting Thiepval Memorial, Beaumont-Hammel and Lochnagar Mine Crater in the village of La Boiselle.

One of the students, Maud Bonham-Carter, who is the great, great granddaughter of Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister of Great Britain at the start of the First World War, had the opportunity to see the grave of Asquith’s son, Raymond, who had been killed in the war. Raymond’s grave was in Guillemont Cemetery and by extraordinary coincidence, the grave of former Bedales student William Alexander Forbes was found directly in front of Raymond  Asquith’s grave. The students left tributes written on small poppy crosses.

Student Minna Whitby traced her great great uncle in a beautiful secluded cemetery surrounded by woodland, Flat Iron Copse. This was a special grave since although there was a headstone, his body was not beneath it but his comrades knew he had been killed in that field and thus he was granted a full memorial.

The tour concluded with the Last Post Ceremony under the arches of The Menin Gate. Block 3 students Amelia Pike, Olly Brewer and Ed Adams laid a wreath to commemorate the 65 Bedalians who had died in the war. The wreath had been made by the family of Ed Adams.

Commenting on the experience, Jonathan Selby, said: “The tour provided a poignant and evocative few days with the manifold issues of the war seeming as bright and powerful as ever, despite the passing of 100 years. We are now in the process of publishing biographies of the 65 Bedalians who died serving in the war, both teachers and students, some fighting for England and some for Germany. Many interesting stories are emerging from our research, including inspiring tales of those who survived. We look forward to sharing this fascinating part of the school and local community’s history, later in the year.”

View photos.

Battlefields visit 2014


Battlefields visit 2014


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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