Commemorating WWI took on a hugely realistic note when a full scale trench was recreated at Wellington School this week. Pupils were able to walk around, whilst notable historian Kevin Hicks regaled them with grisly details of life amid mud and sandbags.
“We wanted to commemorate the Great War 1914 to 1918, those that fought and those that died, and to reveal to the pupils the hardships of life in the trenches” commented history teacher Will Garrett, whose idea it originally was. “The trench is an amazing feat of engineering and was dug over half term. It really brings home the reality of war when you walk around those cramped, damp corridors and imagine spending four year there. The science department were able to illustrate brilliantly how the Royal Engineers solved the problems of communications in the trenches and the grisly field hospital conveys the true horror of battle.”
Members of staff threw themselves into the proceedings by dressing the part – there was a scary Captain in the Royal Engineers 1914 and Royal Engineers sapper, as well as a signaller and several authentically clad nurses. The dining room was decked out with Union Jacks and memorabilia and the whole school ate WW1 food to the background music of “Run Rabbit Run!”
A RAMC field hospital was set up, complete with hideously “injured” patients and a lovely nurse, a signalling depot, helium experiments, sand bag filling, fierce rifle instructors, drills, sandbags and camo netting.
“This has been an extra-ordinary few days of remembrance and reflection. The creation of a trench and the re-enactment of the agonies of warfare is something that will stay with our pupils for many years. The evening commemoration in our lovely Chapel was an incredibly moving occasion and I was immensely glad to be associated with such a sensitively collated series of events” remarked Headmaster Henry Price.