The Haileybury school in Hertford Heath, Hertfordshire built an authentic replica of a Great War trench within its campus grounds in commemoration of the 589 staff and pupils the school lost to the “war to end all wars”.
Aside from paying tribute to its working force and students who lost their lives fighting in the 1914 to 1918 conflict, the school administration also pointed out that another reason behind the building of the Great War trench was to teach its current and coming learners how it was like living and fighting during the century-old conflict.
It can be remembered that aside from losing over 500 people in the war, the boys of the Haileybury school had dug out trenches in 1914 and 1915 as doing so was part of the school’s curriculum in those times.
The school’s replica of the Great War trench was designed by Andrew Robertshaw, a historian who was also the military adviser in Spielberg’s epic war movie War Horse. He was aided by writer and history aficionado Ryan Gearing.
The full-sized Great War trench of the Haileybury school features duckboards, the wooden platform made above the muddy ground to form a dry aisle; a fire-step which, during the Great War, allowed the soldiers inside the Great War trench to see as well as fire into No Man’s Land; Enfield rifle replicas and even a first aid post.
The school’s Great War trench is part of the “Haileybury trench trail” which goes around the school campus. Aside from the trench, this trail also includes several materials found from Haileybury’s own archives like WWI letters sent home by soldiers from the front line.
The unveiling of Haileybury school’s Great War trench was done by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Rt Hon. Mark Francois MP. According to the Haileybury school master Joe Davies, the Great War trench built inside the school’s grounds stands in remembrance to the great sacrifices made by the students of the said institution during the First World War.
Children from other local schools are expected to visit the Great War trench from within this month until December.