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Garibaldi College, Nottinghamshire

Names on Forest Town war memorial, Nottinghamshire © Garibaldi College, 2014
Forest Town war memorial cross, Nottinghamshire © Garibaldi College, 2014
Forest Town war memorial, Nottinghamshire © Garibaldi College, 2014
  • County name: Nottinghamshire
  • Group/School name: Garibaldi College
  • Age group: 11 - 18
  • Group type: Secondary School

Garibaldi College in Nottinghamshire began planning its First World War Centenary commemorations back in the summer term 2013 and, after hearing about War Memorials Trust’s Learning Programme via the IWM’s First World War Centenary Partnership, requested a visit from the Trust’s Learning Officer for July 2014. During the visit the Learning Officer ran two sessions; one with a Year 9 class that focused on researching the names on the school’s local war memorial and a longer session with slightly younger pupils that examined the wider history of war memorials and why they exist, before focusing on researching the names on the local memorial.

The memorial in question was the cross in the grounds of St Alban’s Church in Forest Town, close to the school’s location and shown in the photographs on this page. The memorial lists the names of the men who died during the First and Second World Wars. It was interesting to note that there are various additional war memorial plaques within the church: two bronze plaques also commemorating the men who served and died in the two World Wars, which were placed there by the local branch of the Royal British Legion in the years following the conflicts, and various additional plaques commemorating individuals who lost their lives. Two of these are men whose names also appear on the main war memorials; the third is in memory of a nurse of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. These other memorials helped to illustrate several points, such as the variety of war memorials that can be found in the UK; the fact that many communities have more than one war memorial; and that war memorials can commemorate different groups of people not only those who lost their lives fighting. They also illustrate the community nature of war memorials; many of the plaques were erected by groups in which the individual was involved, such as the local Boys’ Brigade and other nurses of the Army Nursing Service.

After explaining to pupils how to carry out some basic research into the people named on the war memorials, pupils chose some names and developed some questions they had about ‘their’ name. Questions they wanted to answer included:

  • Where did he live?
  • How old was he?
  • Did he have a family?
  • What was his rank and job during the war?
  • How did he die?
  • Where was he fighting?

Initially, pupils used the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website to try to answer these questions, and were particularly interested to see the copies of original documents relating to the casualty burials that can now be found on the CWGC’s website alongside the information about each casualty.

The number of war memorials in St Alban’s Church also revealed another challenge. Some of the names on the memorial in the churchyard (the cross) were spelled differently to how the same name appeared on the memorial plaques within the church. Pupils therefore had to search carefully to work out which spelling was correct. This is not unheard of with war memorials. Often names that were to be included on a community’s war memorial would be collected in a slightly ad hoc way and this sometimes inevitably led to errors. This provided an interesting dimension to the lesson and helped pupils understand something about the way in which war memorials were created after the World Wars.

Working with these groups took most of the school day, but there was also time for the Learning Officer to visit other classrooms in the school and see what else was being done to commemorate the centenary. There was a huge variety of activities going on across the curriculum, from centenary themed artwork and a recreation of a (very realistic!) trench, to a scale model of Clipstone Army Camp (the site of which is now where Garibaldi College is) being made using pupils’ mathematical knowledge of scale and shape. It is always good to see schools engaging with commemorative events in this way and War Memorials Trust was delighted to support Garibaldi College mark the First World War Centenary.

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