Over the Summer holidays students and brothers, Ethan and Kieran Fowler Wright, embarked on an ambitious four-day trip across France and Belgium, visiting the graves of Old Elthamians who fell during the First World War. Accompanied by their father Neil Fowler Wright, who also attended the College, the trio visited 24 individual graves.
The boys had been inspired by a previous trip they had made with the school to the battlefields of France and were keen to do a more in-depth visit to the Somme and Verdun. Working with Eltham College Archivist, Mark Stickings, they gathered a list of the names of the fallen soldiers. Sixth Form student Kieran then used the list to research on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, find the locations of the cemeteries and produce a detailed map for their trip. Whilst Kieran researched and plotted the locations they would need to travel to Year 10 student Ethan spent his time in the Design and Technology Department engraving 24 individual crosses that they would take with them, to lay at each of the grave sites. Each cross was etched with the Eltham College logo, the name of the solider and their rank.
Starting at 6am in the morning they would visit as many sites as possible and finish at 9pm each night, visiting 22 sites over the four-day period. The trip ended with them attending the Last Post Service at the Menin Gate, visiting Passchendaele 1917 and walking along the beaches at Dunkirk.
Kieran reflected on his trip, saying: “I used to look at the war from a statistical point of view but seeing it in person is really impactful and moving. The enormous scale of the graves and memorials demonstrated that the war had a really devastating human cost to it.”
After the success of their recent trip they are considering another ambitious excursion in the near future. Kieran said “We are thinking of possibly doing something for Eltham College students from World War Two. We would also like to go further afield and visit German, Russia and American cemeteries and memorial sites. In particular Russia would be really interesting as most of their soldiers are buried in one place across the two wars.”