16 OCTOBER 2018
Oak Class were visited by Graeme Simmonds, an expert on the two world wars and bringing in with him WW1 artefacts—an Oak child had met him when she visited Gressenhall one weekend and her Mum suggested he would be a fantastic source of information for our school. He certainly was! I must say, I was very proud as the children’s teacher that they already knew so much about World War 1 before Graeme even started! The children remembered dates, that Franz Ferdinand’s assassination started the war, Edith Cavell was a nurse from Norfolk who helped soldiers and was then killed, that the King was King George V and Princess MAry sent gift tins to the front each Christmas—they talked about the trench cake they made at home, tanks, trenches, trench foot and the Women’s Land Army.
It was a wonderful session—everything the children wanted to talk about, Graeme had an information source they could refer to and look at. One thing we learnt a lot more about with Graeme was propaganda, the ‘Pals Club’ and Lord Kitchener—no wonder the young men thought it was all going to be fantastic adventure!
We learnt that conscription happened from 1916 onwards because they had run out of volunteers; some men were given a Reserved Occupation badge to wear because they had not gone to War and the Government did want them to be given feathers in the street by people who felt they were a ‘chicken’ for not going to war. There was even a Cyclist Regiment in Norfolk where young boys would patrol the coast to look for invaders. One of our children wanted to know about Zeppelins—a German invention—which bombed Great Yarmouth and killed 6. We talked about the futility of the Cavalry, the Iron Cross (a German medal) and a family with 3 brothers who served in both World Wars!