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St Stephen's

Building Each Other Up in Love and Learning

Year 6 at Hooke Court Nov 2018 - Diary Entry Day 2

SPAM and Stretchers - it's a soldier's life for us! 

Here we are again, our day two round up of life here in sunny and warm Hooke Court…optimistic thinking, it’s poured all day and been very cold but we all took an oath to be positive and embrace our motto: there’s no such thing as bad weather, simply the wrong clothes! And embrace it we have!

Over to breakfast first – a two course delight! It was cereal and juice followed by beans on toast or toast and a selection of different spreads. Perfect fuel for the day ahead and just what was needed after a good night’s sleep! But we weren’t here long, as we had a soldier’s life waiting for us!

Platoon A started off by learning how to cook as a Tommy in World War 1. Outside. In the rain. Getting wet. It was AMAZING! We prepared the SPAM (we apologise, but be preapred, many children are now requesting SPAM for tea!), chopped the cabbage, peeled the potatoes, grated the carrots for carrot biscuits and prepared the oats for oaty treats to enjoy in the trenches tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Platoon B were inside experiencing something incredibly special. We were lucky enough to get to handle artefacts from 100 years ago that had come straight from the trenches – barbed wire, shrapnel shells, death pennies, ration books and chocolate boxes. How lucky are we? Real artefacts straight from the lives of these soldiers and we got to handle them? It was very moving and incredibly thought provoking.

We then swapped over and had a go at the alternative activity before heading to the kitchens to have our boiled cabbage and potatoes, bejewelled with shreds of SPAM – you should’ve seen the queue for seconds and the empty bowls left by all! Back to base camp we go…

On arrival back at base camp it was lunch time – brilliant news for our hungry soldiers and Senior Officers (the teachers). We were lucky enough to have a spread of sandwiches that covered everyone’s favourite options, yoghurts, fresh fruit and home-made flapjack. There wasn’t a scrap left in sight by anyone today! Delicious and just what the troops needed to fuel them ahead of their afternoon out in the pouring rain and completing their drill training.

So once again, it was boots laced, hats on, rifles collected, standing to attention ready for Captain Alan and Captain Simon to lead us into the trench camp. You can always rely on the weather to be on your side here for at that very moment the heavens opened and we stood and marched in the driving rain and wind across the fields and into our now familiar WW1 trench camp. We can tell you one thing with certainty: we have begun to get a real flavour of the misery life would’ve been in these poor conditions for the young men who went to war.

When we arrived at the trench camp we worked as two separate platoons to explore the trenches in depth and leave our mark by carving our names with a nail on the wooden planks, visiting the Captain’s quarters, seeing the latrine (it really isn’t that pretty but luckily not in use!) and learning how to man the different stations like the young men would have done during the war.

Nonetheless, we marched on, rifles in arms, over the field (via a little stop to visit the sheep and pigs) getting absolutely soaked. But suddenly it was as if the weather gods took sympathy on us because at the very moment we had to stand to attention to begin our training, the rain stopped. Brilliant!

Meanwhile, we had to learn how to use the bayonets on our rifles to attack, practice throwing ‘grenades’ and then hitting the deck as soon as we could and finally, learning how to stretcher our casualties across tricky terrain to get them to safety.

Successfully passing our training for the day, we began the march back to base camp (again, via the sheep and the pigs – you may notice that we like this part of our march?) where our Senior Officers made jugs of hot chocolate and biscuits for the recruits.

Yet again no rest for the wicked here, for it wasn’t long before we needed to report to Captain Alan and Captain Chris for dinner in the Officer’s Mess. Glad rags adorned, brylcreem galore and before us we had 57 boys and girls in role for dinner and our old-time music hall sing-along!

There were 8 lucky members of our team that headed down early to dinner to become our ‘Orderlies’. They set the entire hall as it would’ve been in 1917, learned how to serve and clear tables correctly, adopted the language required to speak to Senior Officers at dinner and became all round superstars! After all the other children joined them and the Senior Officers had marched in to ‘The Land of Hope and Glory’, we were seated to enjoy dinner by candlelight. And oh, what a feast it was! A three-course meal of soup, followed by a full roast dinner, chocolate pudding with lashings of chocolate sauce and not to forget a glass of port (more commonly known as Ribena, other brands of squash available) as we learnt the old tradition of ‘pass the port’. We toasted to our King, our Senior Officers and each other and reflected on the strict rules we had to follow when at the dinner table through the course of the meal. Our particular favourite: ‘No elbows to be on the table! Any joints on the table must be roasted!’ (Boom, Boom!)

Toasts complete, belly’s full and orderlies still working hard, there was a short interlude for the rest of us whilst the hall was prepared for the ‘Old Time Music’. Led by our compére, we had a good ole’ sing song before bed time and I think our favourite was probably ‘How much is that doggy in the window!’. Not an iota of 21st century life in sight for the evening and it really was a delight for all. What an experience to have had!

Upon return to our dormitories it was a record for any school journey - all in bed and fast asleep within half hour – we did warn you that soldier life was a tough life! Who knew 57 children could brush their teeth and put on their pyjamas so quickly, hey? And it’s a good job too because we’ll need all the energy we’ve got when we head back to our trench camp tomorrow again!

Check back in tomorrow at 9am for the next instalment of life here in 1917…it’s a day of two halves for us. We’ll complete our final stages of the WW1 experience which includes planting poppies in the fields and getting muddy - and we mean really muddy - as we prepare to go ‘over the top’ into ‘No-Man’s-Land’, before moving on our teamwork activity where we’ll have to use our skills from our STEM learning to complete bridging the moat!

Please follow the link to see images and videos from throughout our first day here. When we return we will upload them all to the school website!