Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by East Riding MuseumsHeritage Learning and Normanby Hall Country Park.

An introduction to the contribution of fishing trawlers to the dangerous work of minesweeping during the First World War.


Curriculum Links

  • KS3 & 4 History:  World War One 

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge about the war at sea and the important contribution that men from the Humber made to the war effort
  • Understanding of the diverse experiences of people involved in the conflict
  • Skills in analysing and interpreting historical evidence

Discussion Ideas

  • Read George Copping’s letter to his mother (full transcript available to download, see Resources). How do you think she would have felt when she read it? 
  • Look at the watercolour painting of the three armed trawlers. What impression does this give of the war at sea? What words would you use to describe it? 

Activity Ideas 

Compare the watercolour of the three armed trawlers with the photograph of George V and Queen Mary inspecting a trawler (see Resources)
  • What are the similarities and differences between the two images? 
  • What impression do they each give of the role the armed trawlers played? 
  • Assess how important each one might be to a historian. How useful are they as sources of evidence? Which do you think is most useful, and why?
Compare George Copping’s account of the Imperialist’s sinking in his letter to his mother with the detailed account in the Hull Daily Mail from 8 September (see Resources)
  • Can you find any factual differences in the accounts? 
  • What information is in the news reports that is not in George Copping’s account, and vice versa? 
  • How do the accounts differ in tone? 
  • How useful is George Copping’s letter to a historian, compared with the newspaper reports?  Is one source of evidence more useful than the other? Which source do you think is the more reliable, and why? 
Using the film about minesweeping, George Robinson’s diary and George Copping’ letter to his mother as inspiration (see Resources), write your own letter home from a First World War trawler. Think about: 
  • Who you are writing to 
  • What kind of things you want to tell them
  • What kind of things you might want to leave out
  • What you want to ask them about home.