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York Minster Armistice Centenary Event, North Yorkshire

King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Regimental memorial chapel (St. John's Chapel), York Minster © War Memorials Trust, 2018
First World War memorial tablet in St John's Chapel, York Minster © War Memorials Trust, 2018
King's Book of York Heroes, York Minster © War Memorials Trust, 2018
  • County name: North Yorkshire
  • Group/School name: Schools in and around York
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Key stage 2

To commemorate the centenary of the Armistice which brought World War I to an end, York Minster held a special event for 1,000 local school children.  This event, on Wednesday 3rd October, marked the start of a 6 week period of remembrance and reflection which will see a program of activities and events taking place across York.  War Memorials Trust were delighted to be asked to attend the event and lead an activity as part of a carousel of activities which the children were involved with during the event.

The event included a collective ceremony of thanksgiving and commemoration with a set of carousel activities either side of this.  The ceremony included a reading by author Hilary Robinson who read a letter from Fred taken from her book ‘A Song for Will - The Lost Gardner’s of Heligan’.  This was followed by some information about the King’ Book of York Heroes, a most unusual war memorial which takes the form of a book.  It not only names the 1,471 people from York who lost their lives during the First World War but includes a photograph and a short biography too.  The King’s Book was carried down the aisle and placed on a stand at the front while pupil’s from a local school sang the words from the Laurence Binyon poem For the Fallen which had been set to music for the event.  Pupils were amazed by the size of the book and also to learn that it weighed over 9 stone (more than most of them).  Pupils from another local school read the first 20 names from the book.  The names will continue to be read out (20 each day) around York over the next 6 weeks with the final 20 names being read out in the Minster on 11th November, Remembrance Sunday.

WMT’s Learning Officer worked with 5 different schools during the carousel sections of the event.  The activity began with pupils being shown 11th November 1918 and asking them to share what they knew about this date.  They were then asked to consider how people at home would have felt when news of the Armistice reached them.  Each group recognised that people would feel happy and relieved but they would also feel sad, worried and upset.  An image of a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in France was then shown to highlight that the fallen were not repatriated and that relatives would not have always been able to visit the grave of their loved one (if they had one).  This led on to reveal that local communities came together to create war memorials so that they had a place where the fallen could be remembered.  Pupils were shown a range of war memorials from York and surrounding area to highlight the variety.

It was then revealed to pupils that the session was taking place within a war memorial, St John’s Regimental Chapel a war memorial chapel for the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.  Within the chapel are a number of war memorial tablets and plaques for a range of conflicts.  The First World War memorial plaque was pointed out to pupils and they were also asked to look at the World War I battles which are listed on the gates to chapel to help them understand where the regiment had seen action.

The event itself was fantastic and it was an absolute pleasure to be involved.  It was fantastic to see such a large number of young people remembering those who lost their lives during the First World War and to work more closely with some of these schools in the carousel activities.  It is hoped that everything the children experienced will greater level of understanding as we approach 11th November and that it will stay with them for many years to come.

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