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Melrose Primary School, Scottish Borders

Pupil from Melrose Primary School looking at Melrose war memorial, Scottish Borders ©War Memorial Trust, 2017
Pupils from Melrose Primary School carrying out condition survey for Melrose war memorial ©War Memorials Trust, 2017
Pupils from Melrose Primary School taking photographs of Melrose war memorial for condition survey ©War Memorials Trust, 2017
  • County name: Scottish Borders
  • Group/School name: Melrose Primary School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Primary 7

War Memorials Trust was contacted by P7 teachers at Melrose Primary School at the start of the academic year.  During the autumn term, P7 pupils were due to be studying the theme of Remembrance in preparation for a Remembrance assembly that they would be putting on for the rest of the school and the parents.  The teachers were keen for the Trust’s Learning Officer to visit and talk to the pupils about the importance of war memorials so that this could be included within the assembly.

Our Learning Officer visited the school at the end of October as part of a three day visit to Scotland to work with the two P7 classes for a whole day.  The pupils had already begun work on the theme of Remembrance and had been split into small groups who each had a different area of responsibility for the assembly.

The visit began with a session which looked at what war memorials are.  The pupils were asked to consider their existing understanding in conjunction with some photographs of different types of war memorials in order to create a definition for a war memorial.  This was followed by a discussion and the pupils were shown a variety of war memorials in the local area to further consolidate their understanding.  After gaining the understanding of what a war memorials is, the pupils looked at how many there are in the UK and when and why they were created. 

The second part of the day was a visit to the local memorial on St Mary’s Road in Melrose which the children had already found on War Memorials Online (www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/151052) and noted that the record did not have a photograph. This was something they were keen to rectify.  While visiting the memorial the pupils carried out a condition survey, the results of which they later added to War Memorials Online as well as a photograph of the memorial they had taken.  While at the memorial, the pupils were asked to select 5 names which they could research later on in the day.  The pupils noted with interest that there was a woman’s name recorded on the memorial: Emily Davidson who was a Flight Officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.  As we returned to school the pupils stopped to look at another memorial which had caught the eye of one of them on their walk up to the village memorial.  This memorial took the form of a cairn with a stone slab in front of it with the words ‘Lieutenant Colonel Angus Douglas-Hamilton Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders 25th -26th September 1915’ inscribed.  Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas-Hamilton also appeared on the village memorial where it indicated he had been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Back in the classroom after adding their observations and photographs to War Memorials Online, the pupils were shown how to search for the people named on the memorial using the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s database.  The pupils found this activity fascinating as many of the records included details of the road in Melrose where the person or their parents lived.  One pupil found that the person they were researching had links to the road where her grandparents now live.  Another pupil was keen to share with our Learning Officer that his Great Great Grandpa had fought and was killed in World War I.  He was able to search the CWGC database for his Great Great Grandpa and found that his name is recorded on the Menin Gate, Ypres.

The pupils were a delight to work with and really engaged with learning about our war memorial heritage.  They showed great care and interest in their local memorial and it is clear that the visit has inspired some potential war memorial custodians of the future.

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