Throughout September and October 2017, The Bowes Museum Education Department hosted sixteen local schools to take part in a WW1 project. The children listened to a story about a local boy, entitled One Boy’s Story, who joined the army despite being only 15 years old. Stanley Dobson from Co Durham, tells of his excitement of joining up, but it soon turns to despair as the true reality of war unfolds. Sadly, Stanley was one of the many who did not return and the children were able to see a picture of his war grave in France.
The children spent time looking and finding out about objects from WW1 including a German anti-tank gun, which is on loan from the DLI Museum. They also visited the Museum’s Library and Archive where they spent time finding out about the Roll of Honour, and looking at documents from WW1, including a copy of the Teesdale Mercury from 8th March 1916. The children were fascinated with the story of an egg that was donated to the National Egg Collection by a Belgian refugee living in Barnard Castle. A local vicar wrote the name and address of the donor on the egg and she subsequently received a thank you letter from a Canadian soldier in hospital in France, who had been served the egg for his breakfast!
During the afternoon sessions the children learnt about poetry in WW1. They listened to poems written by men involved in the war; For The Fallen by Lawrence Binyon and Flanders Fields by John McCrae. The children discussed their feelings when hearing the words and seeing imagery of the war. They also listened to a poem written by Brenda Williams, based on the novel War Horse. This led to discussion about the animals that helped in the war. When the children then came to write their own piece of poetry, we found many poems written from the perspective of an animal – a horse, a dog, catching rats in the trenches, or pigeons, carrying messages home.
Some of the children involved from each of the schools have since recorded their poem. Please listen to the links to hear the children’s responses to the workshop:
Bowes Hutchinson Primary
High Connsicliffe Primary
St Mary RC Primary
Toft Hill Primary