French trip will show students where Ipswich soldiers fell near Arras

University of Suffolk - Waterfront campus.
Students from the University and some high schools in I

University of Suffolk - Waterfront campus. Students from the University and some high schools in Ipswich are going to Arras to visit the battlefield at the end of April with HLF money. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown.

It may be 100 years since thousands of Suffolk soldiers fought – and died – on the battlefields around Arras in northern France, but the First World War will come vividly to life for a group of Ipswich students next month.

University of Suffolk - Waterfront campus.
Students from the University and some high schools in I

University of Suffolk - Waterfront campus. Students from the University and some high schools in Ipswich are going to Arras to visit the battlefield at the end of April with HLF money. Left to right, Saffron Green and Danni Kingswell.Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown.

A group from the University of Suffolk, Stoke High School – Ormiston Academy, and St Albans High are setting off a Heritage Lottery Fund-supported trip to the see the battlefields around Ipswich’s twin town.

Arras was one of the bloodiest battles of First World War. The allies made significant gains during the five-week battle – but did not achieve the breakthrough they hoped would end the war quickly.

In the event the conflict continued for another 18 months, claiming millions more lives on both sides.

Kitty Smith, Felicity Ryan, and Jhona Mae Mong, all 13, have been studying the lives of two Ipswich soldiers who fought at Arras and are preparing to see the battlefields.

The British War Cemetery in Arras

The British War Cemetery in Arras - Credit: Archant


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Kitty said: “It all brought the First World War to life – finding out about the people that went from here.”

Jhona added: “We’re really looking forward to seeing the battlefields and finding out more about what happened there.”

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Scott Davidson, Becky Lawar, Emily Fillbrook, and Faye Alexander who are 14 and 15 are heading to France from Stoke High.

They have been researching the names of some of those on the war memorial at St Mary at Stoke church.

The ruins of Arras, familiar to the men of the Suffolk Regiment during the war. The people of Suffol

The ruins of Arras, familiar to the men of the Suffolk Regiment during the war. The people of Suffolk would help rebuild the city after the war. - Credit: Archant

Becky said: “Finding out who the people were, what they did in civilian life, and what happened to them has made the war seem very real.”

Among the areas they will visit is Vimy Ridge which is the official Canadian War Memorial – but many troops from this country including members of the Suffolk Regiment fell there as well.

And Arras itself still bears scars from the battle which left much of the city in ruins. Its links with this region, including the involvement of the Suffolk Regiment in the battle, led to it becoming Ipswich’s twin town in 1993.

The HLF is funding the trip and Ipswich RBL chairman Robin Vickery said: “We are thrilled to have received their support which will enable us to bring home to young people the significance of the Battle of Arras.”

The Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge.

The Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge. - Credit: Archant

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