Pupils get insight into major Second World War battle

Veteran John Jefferies, left, with Living History Group members visiting Washington School.
Veteran John Jefferies, left, with Living History Group members visiting Washington School.
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A history project was brought to life for students at a Wearside school.

People from across the country travelled to Washington School to give students and their families a greater insight into the Second World War.

Students Jayne Hall and Katie Anderson try out the jeep at Washington School's Second World War day.

Students Jayne Hall and Katie Anderson try out the jeep at Washington School's Second World War day.

Thirty students at the school, in Spout Lane, are currently involved in this year’s Second World War Airborne Forces project and are planning a battlefield tour of Arnhem in June.

The Battle of Arnhem took place in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside from September 17–26, 1944.

Nicola Williamson, community engagement officer at the school, said they were thrilled that so many people gave up their time to travel to Wearside to spend a weekend giving pupils an insight into the battle.

Among them was veteran John Jeffries, who served in the 1st Airborne Divisional Signals, during the war.

It was an amazing day and we had brilliant feedback

Nicola Williamson

Ms Williamson said: “It was amazing for the students to be able to speak to someone who was there and to get a first hand account of what happened.

“It was an amazing day and we had brilliant feedback from all the students and their families and from the groups who came along, telling us how interested and engaged the students were, we are very proud of them.”

War experts, including historians and authors, from all over the country travelled to the school to talk to the children and there were two re-enactment groups as well as living history groups.

There was a huge range of memorabilia for the young people to see, including equipment, uniforms, vehicles and battle footage.

Some of the items on display at Second World War project day at Washington School.

Some of the items on display at Second World War project day at Washington School.

Ms Williamson added: “It is fantastic that so many people would give up their time to come and support out students with their project.”

She said it really helped to give the students a better understanding of the events which took place in Holland.

Pupils themselves have been fundraising for a battlefield tour of Arnhem, in the Netherlands, in June.

They will link up with Dutch students from Olympus College in Arnhem whilst on the trip to discuss the differences in culture, school and current affairs.

While there they will visit important sites of the battle and also learn why September 17, which is when the Allies launched Operation Market Garden, is still commemorated every year by the Dutch citizens.

Second World War project day at Washington School.

Second World War project day at Washington School.