Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Video: Children learn about ‘forgotten’ soldiers

CHILDREN from Valley Road Primary School in Henley visited a First World War exhibition at the town’s Holy Trinity Church.

CHILDREN from Valley Road Primary School in Henley visited a First World War exhibition at the town’s Holy Trinity Church.

Click here to view video from the visit.

The year 3 pupils were shown around by organiser Mike Willoughby, who was dressed in a British soldier’s uniform.

He talked to them about life in the trenches and showed them some wartime weapons, including a Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle. He also demonstrated an alarm rattle which troops would sound when the German forces were using poisonous gas.

The exhibition included a full-size recreation of a wartime trench called Hellfire Corner, which Mr Willoughby built in his garden. It had a ladder and a working periscope and was decorated with digging tools.

There were old machine guns, mortars and grenades as well as hats, gas masks, medals, drinks bottles and cutlery.

There were also scale models of First World War battlefields with miniature troops, artillery, tanks and trenches and old photographs illustrating the personal stories of the men who fought on the front line.

Mr Willoughby, from Woodcote, is a military historian who organised the exhibition as part of his Lest We Forget project to honour Henley’s “forgotten” soldiers.He researched and produced a map of Henley showing every household which lost a family member during the conflict.

Mr Willoughby said: “The children were so enthusiastic — they were delightful and a credit to their teachers. When you have kids coming along who are so interested and so well-behaved, you feel very sure there’s nothing to worry about in terms of who is going to follow us.”

Class teacher Julie Green said: “To see the impact the war had locally makes it much more real for the children. This really brings home the sacrifice that was made.”

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