This week we are all wearing poppies because it is Remembrance Day on 11th November.  We want to explain why this happens and how it has possibly affected every family in our school.

Next Sunday we will remember that it is exactly 100 years since the end of the First World War. At the time it was called The Great War, because there had never, in the history of the world, been a war which had involved so many people and so many countries. It lasted for over 4 years and it changed the lives of everyone for ever.

The war had brought communities together in a common cause, it had taken a huge number of people away from their homes and workplaces, it had given people opportunities that would never have taken place otherwise and also brought about great suffering, horrific injuries and huge grief at the deaths of so many.

When the war started there was a huge patriotic fervour in favour of getting involved, and thousands upon thousands of men, both young and old, left their homes and jobs to enlist in the army or navy, so that they could do their bit for the country. The minimum age to join up was 16 years of age, but many young men of 14 and 15 years old tried to enlist also. Many of them succeeded. This means that some of those who fought and died were not much older than we are today.

At the start of the war, most people thought that it would not last very long because Great Britain had such a strong army and the Royal Navy controlled all the oceans of the world.

This turned out to be a false hope, and the war settled into a long drawn out affair with neither side appearing to have any great advantage. There were lots of battles, perhaps the most famous being the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. On the first day of the battle over 25 000 British soldiers were killed and thousands more injured.

During the 4 years and 3 months that the war dragged on the total death toll for Britain and her Empire was 908 000 persons killed and over 2 million injured.

At that time almost all the fighting was done by men and as a result the men were the ones who suffered the most casualties. Women were involved too, but in roles that kept them away from the most dangerous zones.

At the end of the war there was a time of rejoicing that the fighting had stopped, but also a time of reflection.

For every single one of the almost 1 million persons who had been killed, there were another 4 who had been injured and needed treatment which for some lasted the rest of their lives.

This meant that nearly every family in the country either had someone who was killed or seriously injured. If this was not the case then it had happened to one of their neighbours. Everyone knew someone who had been killed or injured.

This brings us to Poppies and Remembrance.

The treaty to stop the Great War came into effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  It was decided by the government following public pressure, that each year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month would be Remembrance Day.  Every year from 1919 onward the whole county came to a stop at 11.00am on the 11th November and 2 minutes silence was observed.

Poppies were chosen not because their red petals remind us of all the blood shed nor to glorify was in any way.  Poppies were chosen because in the horror of the trenches and the destruction of the landscape along the western front, the poppies were the first flowers that began to grow when the earth was undisturbed for any length of time. They had given hope to the soldiers that life goes on despite the horrors of war.

We discovered that some or our distant relatives were involved in the war.

Beth’s great great grandad was a sergeant major and her great great grandmother, who had been a mill worker, trained as a nurse.

Patsy’s great grandfather fought in the second world war from 1939 to 1945. He was seriously injured by a tank but the nurse who helped him to recover eventually became her great grandmother.  On the other side of Patsy’s family, her grandad was a Spitfire pilot. This was very dangerous and he was shot down, escaping from his burning plane by parachute. His injuries resulted in one of his arms being amputated.

Zara’s great grandad was in the Second World War, surviving battles at Dunkirk, where he rescued an officer by carrying him on his back to a ship. He also fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino, one of the most famous and costly battles in Italy in 1943. He even took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.

Maisie’s grandad was in the Royal Navy. He was involved in battles that took place after the Second World War.

Phoebe’s grandad remembers seeing the bombs falling on Liverpool and having to carry a gas mask everywhere, even to school. Part of his school was damaged by one of the bombs.

Both of Ava’s great grandfathers fought in the army during the Second World War. During the war one of her great grandads transferred from the army to the navy, where he went on anti-submarine patrols across the Atlantic Ocean. Ava also had 3 great uncles who were in the army and managed to survive the war.

Madi discovered that she has a great uncle who fought against the Japanese in the second world war, and most interesting of all that her great great great grandad is Lord Kitchener, the man whose face is on what is probably the most famous poster ever made!

We all have a connection – we must never forget the sacrifice of lives given by so many for our freedom that we enjoy today.

Please wear your poppy with pride.

Class 8L (Year 8)