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St Stephen's

Building Each Other Up in Love and Learning

Year 6 - Hooke Court - Day 2

First things first, were greeted by Captain Richard and Captain Simon to ‘sign-on’ to the British Army and pledge our allegiances to our crown and country.

Not a Bic biro (other brands are available) in sight but instead we rolled back the clock to July 13th 1915 and used ink to sign the dotted line. We must admit, many of us didn’t really know what we signed ourselves up to but then that isn’t too dissimilar to how the young men felt who went off to war.

We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here.

Our platoons were then split. 6JM were taken up to the long house to be shown the WWI cooking ropes. They successfully prepared fried SPAM, cabbage, and potatoes which they were reminded was a meal that soldiers would eat…if they were lucky. Meanwhile, 6M were preparing poppies during a very valuable arts and craft activity. These would come in very handy later.

Sign-on complete, sacred Oath complete ‘to be taken by recruits on attestation’ and snacks prepared, it was time for weapons training. There were pistols which we learnt were used in a devastating way against members of the British Army, rifles, hand grenades and bayonets that had been taken from the Battle of the Somme.

With weapons training now finished, it was time to learn how to march in formation and it must be said that both platoon – M and JM - earned their stripes today. It was tricky learning all the different commands, mastering the skill of balancing our rifles, staying in straight lines and marching in perfect synchronicity. Yet we did it and by the end had two perfect platoons ready for battle!

After lunch, the afternoon was simply brilliant and a joy for all to have been a part of. We began by collecting our rifles and gathering ourselves into marching formation ahead of our journey to the front line. We must say, Captain Richard and Captain Simon were the scariest we’d seen them; we knew it was time to focus and put all our training into action as we advanced into battle! By this point, the sun was shining down on us as if it was guiding us to our fate. Soon enough we began our marching orders and headed to the country lanes in order to evade the view of the enemy. To ease our angst, we broke into song and wished each other luck for the battle ahead on the front line!

Into the trenches we went and we must admit, never had we seen such mud in our lives – children or staff! We crawled, we got stuck, we lost shoes, we lost rifles but we never lost our hope! Over an hour later we made it through the reserve trenches with our packs and into our trench camp with acts of real teamwork and comradeship shown by all throughout.

At least we can say that the only casualty of war today was footwear.

Sun still at our backs, were made the muddy trudge back to camp to get ready for a well-deserved dinner. Of course, this couldn’t happen before a good hose down. 

After another delicious and nutritious meal, we were greeted by Captain Simon once again for a cracking campfire. We sang, we laughed, we told jokes and listened to stories around an actual fire while surrounded by woodland. What a way to cap off an extraordinary day.

If the following days are half as fun and valuable as today was, we will all be in for a real treat once again.