Joseph W Giardelli's WWI Pocket Watch Case

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum links:

KS2-3 English - Creative writing

KS2 History - WW1

KS3 History - WW1

Look at the pocket-watch images and read J W Giardelli's story on the previous page, then try some of these ideas for discussion and activities (the Related Links at the bottom of the page might help you):

How this resource could be used:

I would use this with other objects in the My Learning WW1 objects package to help me plan a lesson – perhaps other things which speak of the sense of patriotism abounding at the time. I could then make a lesson where we talk about “going to war”, which might lead to higher-level discussion and analysis.

I might use this resource as an exercise in “reading between the lines” – making the students work out interesting facts which are not mentioned (like the fact that Giardelli was 14 when he began working at the Mint and was 32 when he was promoted), and then re-writing the article, perhaps like a newspaper story.
Michelle Ross, Special Needs Co-Ordinator and Year 5 teacher at St. Matthew's C of E (A) Primary School, Leeds.

Discussion ideas - KS2/3 History


  • Why do you think the Royal Mint was called upon to help with munitions work at the start of 1914?
  • Why was it important that workers stayed at the Mint rather than go to war?
  • Do you think it was right that the Mint allowed its staff to enlist once they had made sure there would be no coin shortage?
  • Why do you think that so many of the Royal Mint staff wanted to enlist in the army or navy?
  • What does this watch case tell us about the people who worked at the Mint and how they felt about their colleagues who were away on war service?
  • After the war the Royal Mint actively employed ex-servicemen. Why do you think this was?

Activity ideas - KS2/3 History

  • The Royal Mint is responsible for making coins, medals and seals. Can you find out what medals were made by the Mint during and after the war and what they were for? How important do you think these medals are?

  • How old was Joseph Wilkins Giardelli when he enlisted in the army? Was this old or young compared to others who were called up to fight in 1914? How old would he have been when the Second World War broke out in 1939?

  • The Royal Mint itself was hit by a bomb during the war and a number of staff members lost their lives. Imagine you are a worker at the Mint writing to your colleagues on the front line explaining what has been happening at the Mint while they have been away.

  • Creative Writing: 'What the Watch Saw' Imagine the sort of sights, smells and sounds Joseph Giardelli's watch would have encountered in the trenches. Write a story about the watch's travels, from being sent out to Joseph by his colleagues at the Royal Mint to its arrival in the trenches and time spent with Joseph throughout the fighting.


Enlist - sign up for service in the armed forces
Munitions - items used in warfare, such as bullets, grenades, bombs, landmines, missiles
Truce - an agreement between enemies to stop fighting for a certain time

View other relevant My Learning WW1 resources or scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic.

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