On 4th June 2019 we visited the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepool. This is the only First World War Battlefield in Britain. On December 16th 1914, three German battleships shelled the town and killed 112 people, wounding 400 more. The gallant garrison fired back and drove off the warships. Two of the Durham Light Infantry soldiers killed in the attack came from Rowlands Gill.
Our year six split into four groups and each had a session featuring aspects of life at the Front in the First World War. The children ‘tasted and smelled’ a tour of duty in the trenches with all the horror of rats (at least stuffed ones that squeaked) and a novel way of protecting themselves from gas attacks – pressing wee-soaked handkerchiefs to the mouth and nose. ‘Ughhh!’
In the armoury they had weapons handling, especially the famous Lee Enfield rifle. Grenades were treated with care and ‘battle bowlers’ worn. They learned that soldiers had to be careful what they wrote home, the army censors red pencil making short work of their postcards from the front, while a site tour gave vivid details of the bombardment and the defences of the battery.
Postcards and Censorship