Published on 29/11/21
On a cold and windy Thursday, Year 6 travelled to the Cambridge American Cemetery in Madingley.
They were given a brief introduction to the American involvement in World War 2 and then had time to explore the Visitor’s Centre. Having watched videos, read information boards about the soldiers and their experiences, Year 6 were ready to visit the cemetery. They studied the Wall of the Missing and undertook a treasure hunt to locate certain graves of fallen soldiers. Pupils were asked to try to identify unusual aspects noted on the headstones. Some notable finds included one headstone which mentioned the American Red Cross, on another the date was significant as the soldier had died on D-Day.
Pupils were then asked to focus on Remembrance and what it means. They saw a grave of an unknown soldier and took time to remember them. They witnessed how sand from Normandy is rubbed into the wording on the headstone and flags (Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack) were placed beside it. They also thought about what it would have been like for the family of the missing soldiers to receive the devastating telegram with news of a loved one. Pupils also spent time in the Chapel where they saw all the stained-glass windows from 48 states in America.
Jamie asked how they managed to keep the mosaic allegory in such amazing condition, given how high the ceiling was. Someone else noted that the headstones were made of marble and were impeccably clean.
One question asked by the pupils was, “Why were there so many ‘missing? With over 5000 names listed on the Walls of the Missing.” Matt explained that many of the missing were lost when their ship, or aeroplane was destroyed. They knew where many of these events took place, however they agreed to leave the dead at peace, in circumstances where it would be almost impossible to retrieve the bodies, given the huge numbers of missing planes and ships, and because these soldiers, sailors and aircrew would at least be with their comrades.
It was a thoroughly interesting trip for the pupils and links to our topic, Sticks and Stones which is all about conflict.