The trench, conceived as part of the ‘Haileybury Trench Trail’, will use the school’s archive material, architecture, chapel and memorials to trace Haileybury’s historic links with the Great War, reflecting on the sacrifices made at home and on the Front, during the conflict.
The trench will be officially opened in September, with a commemorative ceremony. The school is extending invitations to fellow schools and museum groups to come and explore the trench, and learn more about the history and personal stories from the war.
Construction of the trench will start on 4 August 2014, one hundred years to the day since the outbreak of the war. The school has employed military historian, author and curator, Andrew Robertshaw, to oversee design and construction. The trench will include duckboards, fire step and dugouts, to echo those on the battlefields of France and Belgium a century earlier.
The trench has personal significance to Haileybury: 589 of its pupils and staff died in the conflict, and are commemorated on the school’s grounds. The school has a wealth of archival material from the war, including a substantial collection of over 900 personal letters to and from Haileybury pupils and alumni at the front. The trench trail will feature stories about the school’s notable alumni, including future Prime Minister Clement Atlee and his brother Tom, who was imprisoned for his stance as a conscientious objector during the conflict.
Joe Davies, Master of Haileybury, said: “We felt it was important to commemorate the centenary with a learning experience that connects our pupils and visitors to the personal accounts of the war. The trench trail is a symbol of remembrance of the immense sacrifices made by our pupils at the time of the conflict… we hope [it] will provide a unique and valuable perspective on one of the most tragic and important chapters in the history of both our school and country.”â€¨