During 2015 – 2016, Year 6 pupils at North Primary School, Colchester, worked on the project Discovering Their Footsteps. They developed case studies for the 20 former pupils who served and died during the first world war on the Somme battlefields in France.
Working with Historian Claire Driver, evidence for the case studies was gathered by researching primary sources from the National Archives at Kew, Battalion War Diaries, Essex Regiment Museum, Commonwealth World Graves Commission, Ancestry and Essex Record Office. Trench maps, written histories and photographs were used to create day by day accounts for each case study. Using historical evidence the pupils identified dates, places, the soldiers actions and exact circumstances of how and when they were killed.
Pupils visited the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Galleries to develop their visual understanding of the historical landscape by looking at prints, paintings, photographs and drawings from WWI.
Working with Creative Writer Baden Prince, the pupils made their personal response through written word and poetry.
The Project Team and 12 pupils travelled to the Western Front on a 3 day field trip to literally ‘Walk in their Footsteps’. Staying in Albert, where many British troops marched through before reaching the frontline, the pupils visited the sites where their predecessors walked, lived and fought. They walked in Mametz Wood, stood on the frontline at Redan Ridge where former pupil Joseph Gant died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, found their graves and memorials and commemorated each former pupil. Standing in exact locations, such as the Sunken Lane, the pupils used visual imagery from WWI to make ‘then and now’ comparisons of these historic landscapes.
The film ‘Walking in Their Footsteps in the pupils personal response to this project, including spoken word, photographs, poetry and drawings.