Life on the Home Front When War Breaks Out...

26 intrepid West Leigh Junior students joined us on Monday afternoon as World War 1 broke out again in Leigh-on-Sea. The children explored how it would have felt to be told the news that their country was at war with Germany, sang the National Anthem to the King and heard all about how the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie had caused so much chaos in the world.

Our writer in residence Samantha Lierens aka Lizzie Page: told us about the amazing lives of Elizabeth Knocker and Mairi Chsiholm, nurses on the Western Front. Elizabeth ('Elsie') and Mairi set up their own First Aid Post close to the Belgian front line at Pervyse in November 1914. Elsie, a trained nurse, believed that lives could be saved if wounded soldiers were treated close to the front line. The two women put their own safety at risk to save lives - they often worked under fire and left Pervyse only after being badly gassed in 1918. Both were awarded the Belgian Order of Leopold in 1915 and the British Military Medal in 1917 for their bravery.

There were lots of brilliant questions and pupils also shared their family stories with our Expert Researchers from the Essex Society for Family History, Fred and Heather Feather who are helping us construct the Southend Great War Trail. If anyone has any stories of relatives about WW1 we would love to hear them and photographs are even better!

Noah's Grandmother Judith Williams, brought in some fabulous artefacts from her loft, including a helmet worn by her grandfather in WWII. Next week we're going to create a map of some of the key events that took place in Southend-on-Sea 1914-1916 to inspire our performances.

We're looking forward to making the films with the children about all the history they're exploring all from the perspective of a child in Southend in 1914-1919.

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