Many schools from mainland Europe visit the cemeteries in Belgium and Northern France but almost uniquely visiting British schools leave 'messages', sometimes duplicated in British and German cemeteries. These range from standard British Legion wreaths with the school’s name to elaborate display boards.
Most speak of sadness and regret; some note that the warring dead are now reunited in heaven, some express the hope that ‘it will never happen again’. Most ‘remember’ usually with ‘gratitude’ and many ‘honour’ those who did ‘their duty’. Some messages like the one illustrated here inadvertently reveal what brought the students here they are ‘studying’ the First World War a process that appears blind to the dead of World War Two.
The question why that pointless war happen or the question of how thousands of men being ordered to walk into machine gun fire constitutes 'duty' remain unanswered in most of these lessons. It's good to note that the students 'know' that the future lies in co-operation but in some respects the world is not that different a place, as is evident from an occasional glance at the news.