Bringing history to life for the next generation

Connor reading Paul Reed's book at Hawthorn Ridge No.1

Bringing history to life for the next generation

…introducing Conor Reeves


Here at Leger we’re used to having people of all ages come along on our battlefield tours, covering everything from eight to 98. Often this can include those who may be looking at it as part of a school project or who are interested in researching something personal to them.

Let us introduce you to Conor Reeves, a 15-year old battlefield enthusiast, who decided to take it a step further and pursue his dream job for his school work experience…

My name is Conor Reeves, I’m 15 and I’m from Cheshire. In July 2013, I will be doing some work experience with Leger. This will involve me accompanying a guide on one of the battlefield tours as a kind of ‘apprentice’. During the trip I will be presenting some of the research that I have uncovered about the men from my school who died in The Great War.

Bringing History to Life for the next generation - Connor reading Paul Reed's book at Hawthorn Ridge No.1
© Mark Banning – Conor reading Paul Reed’s book at Hawthorn Ridge No.1

This fortunate situation arose when I returned from my second awe-inspiring trip to The Old Front Lines and my history teacher suggested contacting Leger about my work experience. I expected nothing more than a “we would love to, but it just wouldn’t be possible” response. As I sat at home wishing I was back in France, I emailed my Leger guide, firstly to thank him for the brilliant service we’d had on our tour, but secondly to enquire about the possibility of work experience. Within the hour he had replied, and got in touch with Paul Reed (the head Leger battlefield guide) to see what could be done. Paul was incredibly obliging and quickly responded with a “yes”. After discussing details, we decided that the best date for me to accompany a tour would be in the summer of 2013.
I have had a passion for First World War history for a long time so it was extremely important for me to walk in the footsteps of the heroes that I have read about for so long. The first tour of The Western Front that I went on, in 2011, was Leger’s most popular tour “All Quiet on the Western Front”. Being my first visit, I really did not know what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised. Everything ran smoothly and I could absorb all of the information that was being imparted to me by the incredibly knowledgeable guide, as one by one the names of places that I had previously only seen in books and histories rolled by. On the coach, I told the driver that I would take as many photographs as possible because this would probably be my only trip to the battlefields, to which he replied: “You’ll be back with Leger. Once you have been on a tour, you will always come back”. Little did I know how right he would be.
I was in awe of my guide from the start, longing to know as much as he did, as he delivered the stories of the soldiers that had fought on the ground on which I was stood. As I wandered through the military cemeteries of Northern France and Belgium reading the beautiful epitaphs and admiring the wonderful work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Brookes’ words were flowing through my thoughts: “If I should die, think only this of me”. I ground to a stop to look at one of the portland stone graves and had a moment of disbelief when I realised where I was. I was in that “corner of a foreign field that is forever England”. I was standing in front of heroes. Men that went to war for our King, our country and our freedom. I felt honoured to be in the presence of this particular great man. Then, when I lifted my head and saw over 11,000 of these stones, you realise that all these men had interesting stories and all deserved an equally prolonged visit, which of course is sadly impossible to do.
After returning back to ‘Blighty’ my interest in The Great War increased greatly. It inspired me to do some research into the stories of my school’s old boys who had died in the First World War. I decided to set up The Peace Garden Project which will create a place of remembrance for all the men from Sandbach School who died in conflicts around the world. My interest in The Great War has not gone unnoticed from my school as I have worked with the History department to add a local aspect to the teaching of The War, using my research to try and encourage interest in the conflict.
So, what does Leger mean to me?
Leger allows The Great War to maintain its longevity as people can easily access the battlefields and the wealth of information that Leger and their guides provide. The team at Leger will always be the people that allowed me to reach the battlefields of the 1914-18 war.
Conor will be going on the “All Quiet on the Western Front” tour in July 2013. We will be posting further blogs on how he finds his work experience – good luck Conor!