The Big Push 2009
The Battle of the Somme
On Friday 3rd July, 240 pupils, mainly from Year 8, reenacted the Battle of the Somme from 1916 as part of their activity day.
The day began with an introduction and video explaining how the Great War began. The students then watched a short play on the Christmas truce of 1914 before being split into three companies. The companies attended workshops, each lasting an hour.
Mr Stevens explained how the war was fought and exhibited his collection of WW1 relics and artefacts.
The students signed up to fight for their country. They were issued a tin hat, rifle, bayonet and anti-gas equipment before being given some rudementary parade and bayonet charge practice.
The troops endured physical training 1916 style to get fit for the battle.
After the workshops were complete, the students had a passing out parade on the school yard before marching to the battlefield.
The school field had been transformed into a battlefield using bales of hay to mark out trenchlines and to make bunkers. String and posts were used to make entanglements of barbed wire and theatrical explosives were used to simulate a bombardment before the battle.
At 3pm the students went over the top, to meet their fate...
A number given to them earlier in the day determined whether they lived, died or were wounded. These numbers were broadcast over the PA system along with authentic battle sounds such as the rattle of machine guns and the sound of explosions.
At the end of the battle, the field was strewn with the dead and wounded and the attack had failed, just as it did on the 1st July 1916.
The students then gathered into groups of the living, the wounded and the dead so that they could see in front of them the futility of war. A prayer was said and a minute's silence observed before the last post was played to end the day.
The Big Push DVD - Now Available
A DVD of the day is available to buy from Mr Stevens or the Lower School reception. It costs £2.50 and all profits will go to the British Legion Poppy Appeal.
Watch the DVD trailer
[7.1MB Quicktime .mov file]
The Big Push activity day teaches the whole of Year 8 about life in the trenches of the First World War concludes with a reenactment of the Battle of the Somme which took place in 1916.
Over the course of the week leading up to the event, Mr Stevens and Mr Howell, helped by various Year 12 students added to the arsenal of equipment needed for the day to accommodate more students taking part. Items have included sixty rifles and two Mills bomb crates.
Making the equipment is a great cross curricular link between DT: Resistant Materials and History. The students are able to learn
about batch production techniques in a historical context.
The aim of the reenactment is not to glorify war but to make the pupils appreciate how terrible war is, the sacrifices made and to give them a greater understanding of remembrance day on November 11th.