Lots to learn this morning under the beady eye of Sgt. Chapman.

First off, Sgt Chapman explained what life in the British Army was like in 1914 and he showed the children the advantages of the Lee Enfield rifle. Whilst most of the children said they would volunteer to join up, some had doubts despite being offered hot nourishing food, warm clothing, foreign travel and a shilling per week! When offered the chance to join their friends in a Windy Nook Pals unit, they all decided to join up.

The realities of trench warfare were brought home as the children took position in a “mat trench” in the hall. Peter and Neil explained the advantages of the zig-zag design but demonstrated how enemy artillery fire and shell bursts could cause devastation. A German raiding party, under cover of darkness, managed to get through the barbed wire to capture one of the Pals.

The children then learned about everyday life in the trenches. They were asked to correctly name the features of a typical British trench and then to vote for their least favourite thing about their trench experience from a list including: rats, lice, the food, trench foot and the fear of losing their friends in battle. The children thought that this was the worst bit and that joining up with all of your friends in the same unit, whilst it had advantages, was a mistake.

Sgt Chapman then allowed the children to handle his collection of WW1 weapons and army materiel – rifles, pistols, a stick grenade, German helmets, trench truncheons, a compass and officer’s map case and much more.

And then off to the Parade Ground for a drill session before lunch (corned beef!). The children learned to march in time, keep space and perform left, right and about turns. A good effort from everybody but Sgt Chapman suggested they needed daily practice!

Check out our morning below.

Meeting Sgt Chapman


Trench Warfare


Gas Hood


Weapon Handling

Parade Ground

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