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Bryn Deri Primary School, Cardiff 2018

Year 6 pupils from Bryn Deri taking on the role of Building Surveyors and carrying out a condition survey on Radyr war memorial © War Memorials Trust, 2018
Radyr war memorial, Cardiff © War Memorials Trust, 2018
Radyr war memorial with marks left by wooden crosses © Bryn Deri Primary School, 2018
  • County name: Cardiff
  • Group/School name: Bryn Deri Primary School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Year 6

War Memorials Trust has carried school out visits to Bryn Deri Primary School since 2013, each time working with the year 6 class whose topic in the autumn term is ‘A Child’s War’ and focuses on World War II from a child’s perspective.  This year was the sixth visit to the school and means that nearly a whole generation of young people in Radyr, near Cardiff, have been educated about what war memorials are and their importance.  This is quite an impressive legacy that is being created by the school who are certainly doing their part to help inspire the war memorial custodians of the future.

The day began with a session on what war memorials are.  Pupils were asked to create their own definitions for a war memorial.  Discussion flowed and pupils gave careful thought to their answers.  Phrases which particularly impressed were “War memorials are creations”, “they mostly remember World War I and II” and “were created to remember local people”.  A range of local war memorials were shown to reinforce what a war memorial is.  The Avenue of Trees on Whitchurch Common particularly intrigued both pupil and teachers, www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/195480.   The trees were planted on behalf of the 2nd Evacuation Unit of the United States Army after World War II as a thank you to Whitchurch Parishioners for their hospitality while they were stationed there before leaving for the D Day landings.  The number of war memorials in the UK and when they were created was then shared with pupils.

Using war memorial inscriptions, pupils showed a great understanding of why two thirds of the 100,000 war memorials in the UK were created in the wake of World War I.  Some of the class had recently travelled to the battlefields and CWGC cemeteries in France to see relative’s graves.  They were able to share their experience of this and further highlight the fact that the government had not allowed repatriation.

Pupils were asked to think about the problems which may face war memorials now.  An interesting discussion followed during which pupils gave carefully considered answers to the question which ranged from vandalism, theft, general aging and environmental factors.  The pupils also made some suggestions about what they could do to help this.

The second half of the morning was spent at Radyr war memorial.  The pupils carried out a condition survey which was later uploaded to War Memorials Online, www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/report/120541/view/condition/205757.   Pupils were aware of works which had recently taken place to the memorial which WMT’s Learning Officer was able to explain were as a result of a grant from Cadw and WMT.  Overall pupils considered the memorial to be in good condition.  While at the memorial pupils were challenged to find the name of the sculptor and also to use the memorial to find out how many men from Radyr and Morganstown went served World War I.  The inscription reads TO THE LASTING HONOUR OF RADYR’S GALLANT DEAD. ALSO OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY SEVEN OTHERS FROM THE PARISH WHO ALSO SERVED.  With this information and the 20 names of the fallen from WWI pupils identified that 167 men from the local area went to the front in World War I.

The afternoon was spent researching the names of those on the war memorial using the ‘Find War Dead’ database on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.  Pupils were thoroughly engaged in this task and it was wonderful to see them so interested in the stories behind the names on the memorial.  It was a real pleasure to visit Bryn Deri Primary School and work with such keen yet thoughtful pupils.

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