Soldier Reveals First World War
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
All year groups at the Junior Boys’ School met ‘Tommy Atkins’, who gave a thorough overview of what life was really like in the trenches of the First World War. Introducing himself only as “Sergeant” and dressed in uniform, he captivated pupils in a series of interactive hour-long sessions throughout the day.
Sergeant took boys on a whistle-stop tour through a typical soldier’s kit, illustrating what they faced between 1914 and 1918 through the items that they carried with them. He also talked about key moments of the First World War.
The range and capabilities of weapons such as rifles and bayonets, bullets, hand grenades and mills bombs were discussed. However, Sergeant focused heavily on the horrifying wounds that these weapons could inflict, which prompted boys to consider the reality of the injuries and deaths on the front. He also talked about gas, which was used as a chemical weapon for the first time in 1915, and the imperfect protection that soldiers were expected to use in order to survive.
Each session came to a close with one pupil wearing all of the kit a typical soldier would carry in the trenches.
Sergeant began and ended his talks by reminding pupils that this year marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. Speaking solemnly, he remarked that the act of Remembrance on 11 November each year fulfils our obligation to those men who fought and died, and in return ask only that they are remembered.
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