Wychwoodschool WWIIThe children in Years 3 and 4 at the village school have been learning about WWII. They went for a visit to the STEAM museum in Swindon, setting off from school dressed as evacuees with their gas mask boxes. There they got to ‘live the war’ for the day with the sounds and sights of the Home Front. The displays recreated the era of that time and all staff dressed in period costumes. There were many artefacts from that time that the children could handle, including toys that were fashioned from recycled materials from a home of that time. Costumes and uniforms were available for the children to dress up in. The museum also has a reconstructed air raid shelter where the children could experience the cramped and basic conditions families went into when the siren sounded. They were asked questions such as “how would you pass the time through the long and terrifying night?” and “What might you find outside once the raid is over and the All Clear sounds?” They had the chance to discuss the anxiety and excitement of a child climbing aboard a train carriage as they were evacuated from the city where they lived and how they would try to impress their host families on arrival in the countryside. The role of the railways was also taught with stories from people who lived through the war themselves.

Back at school we were fortunate to have Mr Perry (grandad of Tilly and Anabelle) visit to talk about the Second World War. The children hung on to his every word and asked such interesting questions which demonstrated how much they had been learning. He brought an air raid siren which really impressed the children and we hope did not scare anyone in the community!

The term was finished with an outstanding performance by the children about WWII in a play called Treachery at Traitors’ Quay. The plot: During WW2, the Dawson children are evacuated from London, to Traitor’s Quay, with their teacher Miss Albright. They are billeted to Lord Eggin Drake’s (an important man working in the war office) home. The barn at Traitor’s Quay is in high demand. Miss Allbright wants it for teaching, Mr Mulch for his Air Raid Warden headquarters, Captain Kitchener for his Homeguard drills and the land girls for their dance. Among this chaos the Dawson children suspect the new games keeper (Parker) of spying on behalf of the Germans and take it into their own hands to catch him in the act. Surprisingly they find that the spy is someone they never would have expected! Everyone who saw the shows enjoyed them.

Without any doubt at all, the children have experienced an extensive picture of what war really meant to ordinary people, their education being all the better for that.

Julie Hemming

June-July 2019