Washington pupils pay tribute to war heroes

Biddick Academy pupils in front of the war memorial.
Biddick Academy pupils in front of the war memorial.
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It was left-right, left-right, left-right for the fresh-faced recruits of Biddick Academy during their recent Curriculum Week.

The Academy’s Year 8 students answered the call of duty and paid their own tribute to the local soldiers of Washington by marching along the Wor Poppy Walk.

One hundred students paid their respects to the fallen men of The Great War and stopped at each house along ‘Wor Poppy Walk’ – marked with a bronze resin poppy – indicating the home where a First World War soldier had lived.

The walk was created by Wessington U3A War Memorials Group. Co-ordinated by local historian Peter Welsh, U3A has worked to secured funding for the poppies.

The location of each house has been plotted on a map, allowing people to navigate a route around the Washington area.

The map is contained in a booklet created by graphic design apprentice, Matthew Maddison, which also gives pen-pictures of the individual soldiers, their lives, families, and career.

As a part of the activity, the students stopped outside the houses of the soldiers and read aloud the story of the soldier who had lived within.  

At Harraton War Memorial, Peter and Margaret Welsh gave a talk on the history of memorial and the names of the people inscribed on it.

The pupils were not only given an insight into the lives of the soldier, they also gained an appreciation of the scale and importance of the war.

“I had no idea how many local soldiers had died in the war, and I hope we can visit the homes of the other soldiers in September,” said student Liam Potts.

Caitlyn Fletcher, 13, found the name of her great-uncle, Harry Fletcher, etched into the monument: “I was immensely proud to think that someone in my family fought and died in the Great War for our freedom,” she said.

She learned that Harry was attached to 176 Tunnelling Company and was killed by a trench mortar shell on July 1, 1916, aged only 26.

The tributes continued back at school where students used the information gleaned on the walk, to create a wall display depicting the lives and locations of the soldiers from ‘Wor Poppy Walk’.  

Portraits, dwellings and landmarks were drawn, along with images of war and remembrance.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the walk or the U3A organisation, contact wwmp.weebly.com or Wessington U3A.

The day was completed with a final roll-call, and the learners returning to barracks taking home the maps and leaflets to share the knowledge and experience with parents and carers.

All-in-all the day was a fitting tribute to an important part of our heritage, and was summed up poignantly by Peter Welsh: “These aren’t just names set in stone. These men are our granddads and great granddads; they walked our streets, they lived in our houses, they drank in our pubs and clubs. Let’s remember them.”