News Item
Wellington Remembers
16/03/2015
7th to 9th November

The whole School community gathered together in November to commemorate the anniversary of the First World War. It started on Friday 7th with the most extraordinary day with the whole school transformed into a theatre of war. In true Wellington style, a full scale trench was dug, which pupils were able to walk around, whilst notable historian Kevin Hicks regaled them with grisly details. A RAMC field hospital was set up, complete with hideously "injured" patients and a lovely nurse, a signalling depot, helium experiments, sand bag filling, fierce rifle instructors, drills, sandbags and camo netting. There were various "hands on" communications exhibits for experiential learning, including morse, signals flags and ‘carrier pigeon activities’ as well as a history of the Royal Engineers (Royal Signals did not form until 1920) and even some chocolate bars wrapped up in 1914 wrappers (they ate far more dark chocolate then so it was tricky finding a milk chocolate wrapper!).

All Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils spent the morning enjoying the experience and in the afternoon, over 100 pupils visited from neighbouring primary schools to find out more about this period in history and the sacrifices made for us all. Extraordinary art displays impressed visitors and an exhibition detailing the many young men from the school who were killed in the war, formed a sombre and valuable reminder of the reality of war.

“We wanted to commemorate the Great War 1914 to 1918, those students and staff who fought and those that died, and to reveal to the pupils of today the hardships of life in the trenches” commented history teacher Will Garrett, whose idea it originally was. “The trench is an amazing feat of engineering and was dug over half term. It really brings home the reality of war when you walk around those cramped, damp corridors and imagine spending four years there. The science department were able to illustrate brilliantly how the Royal Engineers solved the problems of communications in the trenches and the grisly field hospital conveys the true horror of battle.”

Members of staff threw themselves into the proceedings by dressing the part – there was a scary Captain in the Royal Engineers 1914 and Royal Engineers sapper, as well as a signaller and several authentically clad nurses. The dining room was decked out with Union Jacks and memorabilia and the whole school ate WW1 food to the background music of “Run Rabbit Run!”

The theme continued in the evening with a medley of music, drama, readings and history in the beautiful memorial chapel and the congregation, which included the Mayor and Mayoress of Wellington, and the Mayor of Taunton, were moved by the emotional tension of the event. Choristers sung a Pack Up your Troubles, and Jessica Handley drew a tear with “Keep the Home Fires Burning” and “Goodbyee”. Extracts from Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen were read by pupils and there were obituaries and letters from three Old Boys. The drama department performed “The Rush to Enlist” and “A Fitting Memorial” and the hairs on the backs of everyone’s neck were raised when the Last Post was sounded by bugler Anthony James. The chapel was bathed in red and white lights and the evening finished with the Edward Elgar’s evocative “Nimrod”. In the interval, guests made the dark and gloomy journey to the trench to recreate the spirit of desolation.
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