Posted on: March 9th 2018

First World War Centenary Battlefields Tour and Project

The First World War tour and project came about after Mrs Onions secured a place on the 110 Legacy trip. Two students and one adult from every state school had the opportunity of taking up a place on this award-winning programme delivered by the UCL Institute of Education and Equity, who offer a unique and powerful partnership of education and travel expertise. The battlefield tours are a key part of the Government's plans to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

We were set a competition to win a place on the 110 Legacy trip and asked to write an essay entitled ‘Why is it important to remember the huge loss of life on the battlefields of the First World War’, which was launched on 9th November as part of Remembrance week.

The winners were announced in Year 9 Assembly on 1st December and we were the lucky winners with our first meeting taking place on 7th December to discuss ideas for a project.

We visited the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock over the Christmas period and were moved by the personal stories told and this will be the basis for our project. Based on information found on soldiers named on the Woodstock War Memorial.

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In our meetings with Mrs Onions  we have looked at the  Woodstock War Memorial site compiled by:

Compiled and copyright © Robert Hellier 2006

We looked particularly at the soldiers who died in 1918, then extending to other years. Taking their names from the Woodstock site we were able to put that information into the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and find further information which can be downloaded and printed for the display we hope to do before the Year 9 students History trip in June.

Mrs Onions has always lived in Woodstock and this has proved invaluable as she knows a lot of the names on the War Memorial and family members who may be connected. On our behalf she visited Pat Crutch, a local historian and author, whose own father fought in the war and came back but sadly he lost two relatives who were cousins. Pat kindly accepted an invitation to share details of Frederick and William with us. We really enjoyed the session with Pat and she spoke about her father who fought in Mesopotamia.

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William Crutch is buried in Woodstock cemetery and Frederick Crutch is named at Thiepval which we will be visiting on our trip. Pat had direct descendants of the brothers living in the same road as the Marlborough School. After writing a letter to explain what our project was all about they kindly leant us their Next of Kin medals to hold and photograph. Mrs Onions was able to take a photograph of the family group so we now have faces to the names which brings it all together. We were told the youngest brother was sent off to war by his mother with some long johns to keep him warm and some clean pyjamas.

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We discovered more about the Next of Kin medals which were awarded to every soldier who died in WW1 and discovered that a competition was held for the design with the top entries offered prizes up to £500.The winner of the first prize had their design cast in bronze and given to hundreds of thousands of families who had lost a loved one. We were surprised at the weight of the medals and how detailed they were.

Pat also brought us some helpful information that she had discovered in Oxfordshire County Museum Woodstock in the local history section from Bladon & Woodstock News from the war years. We were amazed by the amount of people listed who were serving in the war and this really brought home the amount of people, families and businesses that would have been touched.

Two other relatives were contacted who are descendants of John Painting and Edward Styles. A relative of John’s is herself a current pupil.

We made a document listing the cemeteries all of the Woodstock War Memorial soldiers; where they were buried or remembered so we can see at a glance whose we might visit on our trip. Four of them will be found at Thiepval along with Isabel’s relative:

William Dolman 1st Bn Gloucester Regiment died 1916

Frederick Crutch Oxon & Bucks died 1916

Clifford George Kilby Royal Naval Reserve died 1917

Ernest David Wilkins 1st Bn Coldstream Guards died 1916

Percy Albert Williams Oxon & Bucks died 1916

We discovered more about the Somme battle and how these soldiers died.

We also looked for any other information regarding the Oxford and Bucks Regiment.

We have been set homework to look at the Battlefields site

Films to watch, interactive timeline to refresh our memories and the itinerary so we have some background information before we go.

We will also be looking for further information on the Ancestry site.

We travel on March 16th to Kent where we will meet other students and teaching staff; the Equity tour leader; a member of the Institute of Education; a Guild of Battlefields Guide and a serving soldier. We spend the night here doing a programme of educational events including a tour briefing, local soldier research and handling WW1 artefacts. We head off to Belgium the next day for a very full programme of visits which we are really looking forward to.

Alice and Isabel