Losing a Loved One in WW1

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

** Try out the new WW1 Medals Interactive resource on My Learning. Pupils can explore the significance of medals, stories of medal recipients and design their own medals online and view them in 3D. **

Curriculum links:

KS3 History – WW1
KS4 History – Britain 1905-1986; Britain at War

Aims of resource: 

To enable students to understand the consequences of the high casualty numbers in WW1 and place these in a personal context.

Learning objectives:

Knowledge of the high casualty rates in WW1 and a personal story
Understanding of the significance of the risk of death for soldiers and what happened when they died
Skills to consider conflict from a personal case study and relate this to the wider context

Discussion ideas:

  • Look at images of the Tower of London poppy memorial above - what do you think the poppies represent?
  • Why are poppies used in WW1 memorials?
  • What factors do you think may have caused so many casualties in WW1?
  • How do you think British society might have been affected by losing so many men after the war?
  • Why were officers and other ranks’ families treated differently to each other when they were informed of their death? What does this tell us about British society at the time?
  • Do you know of any family members or famous figures who were killed in WW1?

Activity ideas:

  • Historical research: Search the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website (see the links at the bottom of this page) for the name of a soldier in your family or using a surname that means something to you and find out what happened to them. Where and when did they die? Find out more about the battle or part of the front line where they might have died.

  • Research propaganda posters aimed at women on the Home Front during WW1. Analyse the message put across by the government and the techniques they use to persuade women to send their men to war. What sort of imagery is used? How do the phrases use work to convince their audience? How effective do you think the poster is?

    Make bullet point notes on the different posters you look at. Choose the one you think is the most likely to convince women to do what they government is asking them to do. Write up an argument consisting of the reasons why you think it is effective. 

  • Research a particular soldier using the CWGC website and other online resources. Write up your conclusion as a fact-file. Try to find out:
    - Their birth and death dates
    - Where they were from
    - What they did before the war
    - The date when they joined up
    - The regiment they fought in 
    - What their role would have been
    - The battles they fought in
    - Were they injured?
    - Did they receive any medals?
    - What happened to them after the war?

  • Creative writing: Write a diary from either Mrs Andrews or Ellen’s point of view. Write brief entries about different events between 1914 to 1916, imagining their responses to the following events: the outbreak of war; Fred/Teddy volunteering to fight; hearing that Fred/Teddy was missing in action and the long wait until his death was confirmed.

Scroll down for a list of related links on this topic.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery |  Surrey Heritage | 
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