WW1 activity 4: marching off to war
Role play activity using content gathered from several Learn with Objects WW1 topic entries and wider internet research. Teams of children explore, develop, rehearse and perform a series of dramatic scenes, following a group of soldiers from basic training at Shorncliffe Camp to the Battle of the Somme
Increased knowledge, understanding and empathy with the experience of soldiers, nurses and other service personnel heading off to fight in WW1.
KS1-2 History (Folkestone in WW1, Local History Study).
KS1-4 History (the soldiers’ and nurses experience in WW1)
KS1-2 English (speaking and listening, drama)
KS3-4 Drama (creating and performing a new piece of drama)
Role play: Marching off to war
Children play the roles of soldiers and other characters and re-enact short piece of drama or role play around marching to war. Costume, props and sound effects may be used to add depth and authenticity but are not essential
The scenes are as follows:
Training at Shorncliffe Camp. Military drill, rifle practice, bayonet practice etc. Sleeping in tents. Sergeant Major with loud voice giving commands.
Attention! At ease. By the left, quick march!
And men obeying them.
Soldiers march down to the harbour (stepping short on The Slope (now re-named the Road of Remembrance). Crowds cheering.
Mother rushes out to give her soldier son a final kiss goodbye.
Soldiers arrive at Folkestone harbour. Sound of seagulls and ship’s whistle. They join huge snaking queues waiting for the ship to embark for France.
Soldiers chat about what’s happening. For example…
Any one brought their fishing rod? Call that a harbour. It’s all mud, and it don’t half stink? How many hours do you reckon we’ll be waiting ‘ere then? Look, is that a café over there? Reckon they’ll ‘ave a hot cup of tea? Do you think we’ll be on the SS Queen? I went across to France on her when I was a boy.
In the Canteen. Buying tea and a bun from the Jeffrey sisters and Mrs Sturt.
Cup of tea, with two sugars and a sticky bun please!
Chatting with men from other regiments and the Canadian nurses. Friendly rivalry.
What are they doing over there? Signing the Visitors’ book. Look, it’s got hundreds of names in it. Look, here’s our glorious leader, Field Marshall Haig… and here’s a VC winner! Well, if he’s signed it, so will I!
I can’t read that spiders scrawl. What have you put? Off for a Continental Tour? Here’s hoping you survive to tell ‘em all about it!
On board ship. Ship’s whistle sounds. Noise of crew shouting commands
Full steam ahead.
Leaving harbour on Cross-Channel voyage. Soldiers stand at the rail looking back on England. Role play movement of the ship.
Goodbye White Cliffs, Farewell Old Blighty. I hope I survive to see you again.
All start to sing…
Goodbyee Goodbyee wipe a tear, baby dear from your eye-ee…
Moving up to the Front line. Soldiers marching. French voices shout...
...(Long live England) as they pass.
Men singing Pack up your troubles which fades into the distance as they march past. Ordinary soldiers on foot, officers on horseback.
Sound of shell fire gets louder. See film if Battle of the Somme, including Buffs moving up, for inspiration.
In trenches on eve of battle. Subdued atmosphere. Noise of constant shelling of enemy trenches. Soldiers eat from tin canteens. Soldiers write letters home.
Some write battlefield wills. Older ones encourage younger ones that all will be well.
Don’t worry son, our bombardment has destroyed all their guns. How could they survive all that? When that whistle sounds tomorrow. Just follow me. I’ll look after you.
Over the top, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Soldiers check their rifles one last time and fix bayonets.
An officer looks at his watch and blows his trench whistle. Soldiers climb trench ladders and start to advance across No Man’s Land.
Soldiers fall one at a time under a hail of machine gun fire. Most are dead. Badly injured soldiers cry out or attempt to crawl back. Stretcher parties try to rescue them.
Learn with Objects links