Pupils uncover past as they study war

The display at Braddan School

The display at Braddan School

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Primary school pupils have uncovered a treasure trove of compelling stories after they researched local men’s roles in the First World War.

Pupils aged eight to 11 at Braddan Primary School have been studying the war, which began 100 years ago.

‘We set out to use a range of historical sources to investigate the stories of WW1 soldiers and to communicate what we found out in a variety of ways,’ said teacher Lisa Nelson.

‘Matthew Richardson and Katie King, from Manx National Heritage, spent a morning teaching the children how to undertake historical research into military personnel, concentrating on the resources of the iMuseum.

‘We then asked the children to talk to their grandparents to see if there was anyone in their family involved in the First World War. We also gave each child the name of a soldier from Braddan who fought in the Great War to investigate.

‘We had no idea whether we would discover anything interesting, but we ended up being amazed at what our historical research uncovered.’

Mrs Nelson said: ‘The children brought in the some fabulous artefacts from their own families’ First World War history, including letters from a 16-year-old soldier who was killed in Iraq during the war, a wonderful postcard collection that detailed the communication between a sister and her brother, who was detained in a prisoner of war camp in Bulgaria, plus medals and photographs.

‘The research undertaken by the children has ensured that wonderful family history has been discovered, or in some cases rediscovered: for example the life and death of the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, bravery at the Battle of Jutland and the sad story of the soldier who only confirmed his brother’s death after finding his grave during WW1.’

Mrs Nelson said: ‘The research into the men of Braddan who fought in the war has uncovered the most fascinating stories, including those of a soldier who was a famous violinist and a tale of bravery under friendly fire in no-man’s land.

‘The children developed a real connection with “their” soldier, particularly those children who found that they live next door to their soldiers’ addresses and those whose soldiers are buried in Braddan cemetery, which is next to the school. For the children of our school, the brave men of Braddan who fought in the First World War are no longer just names on the war memorial: they are men whose amazing stories need to be remembered.’

The children are displaying their research on a website, https://www2.sch.im/groups/war/ and will hold a public open afternoon on Friday, April 4, from 2pm to 3.30pm, which anyone interested is welcome to attend.

l Read about the role of Manx nurses in the war on page 44

lRead about the Steam Packet in the war in Thursday’s Manx Independent.

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