Neil Bates and myself were lucky enough to work with Worthing library developing four case studies of soldiers who fought and died in the First World War. This was part of an amazing project about The Great War in West Sussex. The website has only recently gone live.
We are very proud of this work as it brings to life some forgotten young men’s tragic stories. The lessons take an enquiry based approach and use accessible and interesting archive materials. Each story shows how the ordinary soldier’s experience was truly extra-ordinary.
All of the schemes and work and resources are downloadable for free below. They use photographs, birth certificates and even a death warrant signed by Douglas Haig!
John Barnes – shot at dawn mystery – This enquiry takes a mystery approach. It focuses on the tragic tale of a young soldier, John Barnes who was court-martialled and executed for desertion, despite suffering a mental breakdown. Can your pupils piece together the evidence to work out why John’s mother, Sarah campaigned to have her son’s name added to the Littlehampton war memorial in 1921?
Harold Linfield and the The forgotten Battle of Aubers Ridge – Here we focus on the life of one individual soldier, Harold Linfield. Harold’s story reveals very much about the wartime experiences of many ordinary British men. It is a sad story about an often neglected, disastrous battle of the Great War . It best approached through a mystery style activity in which the pupils raise questions and use the archive material to find the answers.
Boy Soldier – John Searle – This enquiry focuses on the life of one individual soldier; John Searle who died at the battle of Boar’s Head aged 15. John’s story reveals to students something of the nature of being a historian- namely working with real archival evidence and attempting to reconstruct a story about the past.
William Rainsford – This final enquiry looks at the life of one individual soldier, William Rainsford. William’s story reveals very much about the wartime experiences of many ordinary British men. The lesson asks you to consider the life of this First World War soldier in light of comments made by a sailor from the same war, Claude Choules. He claimed that for him WWI was quite boring- students will need to use a range of sources to decide if the same could be said for William Rainsford.