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An Independent Day and Boarding School for Boys and Girls aged 3 to 18 years

First World War Centenary Saturday Special

With 2014 being the centenary of the start of the First World War it was no surprise that the History Department chose this as their theme for their Saturday Special.

Mr Scott, Head of History at the College, put together an excellent montage of short scenarios leading the pupils through some of the key aspects of the Great War. Using a clever blend of video clips, classroom explanation, drama, a trench, costumes and sound and lighting the pupils were encouraged to take part and hopefully feel the emotion. Mr Scott had produced character cards for each of the pupils outlining their age, family status, employment and views on joining the army so that they were able to play their own part during the drama sessions.

Following the invasion of Belgium the civilians were encouraged to join up for King and Country by Sergeant Horton assisted by Corporal Wilkie. Some joined up immediately whilst others were reluctant and remained, for the time being, as civilians in Scarborough. Following initial training the new recruits returned to Scarborough to be greeted by family and friends only to be caught up in the bombardment of Scarborough in December 2014. This was the final straw for those who had not joined up and following the bombardment all were now enlisted in the Army, in uniform and ready to fight for King and Country.

The next scenes took place on the Western Front as the characters were introduced to trench life and warfare using an authentic trench design with duck boards, barbed wire and sandbags. As well as hearing about rats, lice, trench foot, latrines and the job of the rear admiral the soldiers were invited out into no man’s land to meet the German soldiers. Just as in December 1914 the cries of ‘Hey, Tommy, its Christmas come over here,’ were heard from the German lines and British and Germans met to exchange gifts. Eventually it was time to ‘go over the top’ on 1st July 1916 at the start of the Battle of the Somme. Following instruction and orders from Sergeant Horton and Corporal Wilkie the soldiers waited anxiously for the signal. Soon the sound of the whistle pierced the air and slowly and orderly the troops left the trench heading for the German Front Line, needless to say many failed to make it.

The final scenes were set back at home as a family tried to cope with food shortages and received news of the death of a family member followed by a letter informing them that further family members were to be conscripted. These roles were played by the adults hoping to portray to the children the emotional side of war and how families at home were affected.

This was an excellent morning of education, drama and fun coordinated by Mr Scott with Ms Powell holding the scenarios together with fine narration. Mention must be made of the great work by two sixth form students, Tim Winklemann and Kevin Ranner, who operated the lights and sound in the drama studio and played fine German soldiers when meeting the British in no man’s land! Finally thanks to John Horton for his work as the sergeant holding things together, Blackadder comes to mind; whereas Peter Wilkie as the Corporal was more akin to a character from Dad’s Army!

Peter Wilkie