Today we reflected on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and on the recent trip yr5 made to
Heaton Park to experience what life was like 100 years ago.
How can children get an understanding of what a sacrifice was made at the Somme and through the ‘Great War’?
This morning the whole school community watched clips of the so-called ‘Ghost Soldiers’ hand out cards bearing the names of those who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme – which began 100 years ago on July 1, 1916 – before breaking into a haunting rendition of We’re Here Because We’re Here – one of many songs sung amongst comrades in the hellish trenches of the First World War.
We watched as the soldiers moved silently, sombrely, slowly weaving through crowds of onlookers in Piccadilly Station, the Arndale Centre and St Ann’s Square in our own City of Manchester; some sit, some lean, others crouch with stony faced gazes fixed upon passers-by. Decked out in First World War uniforms, these are the ghosts of the soldiers that never came home.
A staggering 19,240 British soldiers lost their lives on just the first day of the battle. Four and a half months later, there were 420,000 British casualties. More than 70,000 names appear on the Thiepval war memorial in France of those men who were posted as ‘missing’ at the Somme.
All across the country commuters and shoppers were moved to tears as ‘ghost soldiers’ dressed in First World War uniform handed out cards bearing the names of those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme.
This picture was taken at Manchester Piccadilly train station
The soldiers broke into renditions of We’re Here Because We’re Here – a rousing tune which troops sung in the trenches to reflect the futility of their situation.
The song, sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, was performed in full-throated defiance to the likely fate of the soldiers fighting one of the bloodiest battles in military history, one which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands on both sides.
When passing commuters approached the men to ask who they were, the soldiers simply handed them a card featuring the details of one of the 19,240 British heroes who died during the bloody battle.
We sat together silently reflecting on the brothers and dads, sons and uncles who would have died all those years ago and who were are remembering and thanking today. I’m sure our children wont forget this moving tribute to the fallen of the Somme and of World War 1.