Every year in the UK, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, people will stop what they are doing for two minutes. Not working, not talking, just remembering. At 11 am on 11th November 1918, hostilities ceased across Europe as Germany signed the armistice, bringing peace to the world after four years of fighting and millions of lives lost.
Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day or Poppy Day, is commemorated with a two-minute silence, but citizens of the UK also take part in Remembrance Sunday where ceremonies take place at churches, war memorials and cenotaphs around the country. Each of these ceremonies will end with a lone bugle sounding out the Last Post, a call that has been used by the British Army since the 1790s. Its original purpose was to signify that the last inspection had been completed and it was now the end of the day in camp. Over the years the Last Post has become more mournful and melancholy as it has become synonymous with not just the end of the day, but now the end of a soldier’s life.
Women’s war effort
In the build-up to the centenary of the end of the First World War, there have been commemorations taking place since the centenary of the outbreak of war in 2014. This year, in 2017, we celebrate the centenary of the first ever all-female unit to serve during a conflict overseas. The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), or Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC) as it later became known, was formed in 1917 to assist in the war effort by freeing up men to fight on the front line by having women fulfil the same roles. There had been voluntary female units already established to support with casualties of war, but the WAAC were the first to work on what had previously been classed as ‘man’s work’. Enlisted members were trained to be drivers, clerks, signallers, cooks, bakers, orderlies, codebreakers, printers, typists and phone operators. 57,000 women answered the call to support the war effort. Even though the unit was disbanded in 1921, it was reformed again in 1938, on the eve of the Second World War. It was renamed as the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in which some 190,000 women served throughout the conflict.
Free First World War resources
Although the First World War is not part of the curriculum for primary schools, if you would like to study this crucial period of British history with your class, then download our free First World War project, Fallen Fields. This project also comes with a range of free resources to help you deliver it. Existing Cornerstones Curriculum customers can access this project via The Hub as part of their Curriculum Licence.
As part of Fallen Fields, we recommend the story Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo. Told through the eyes of Tommo Peaceful, the story tells us about a young man’s experiences during the First World War. From the nonchalant attitude of the war during basic training to the full-blown horrors of the battlefields of the Western Front, Private Peaceful tackles the themes of family, death, justice, love and remembrance, telling the story of family life during this terrible time and the different effects that the war had on people. Private Peaceful is available to purchase as part of our ‘Love to Read’ scheme, which can be found in our online shop. The guide will support teachers in delivering this poignant story to pupils, explaining the themes and literary devices used by the author. There are also suggested activities that will not only develop children’s comprehension but also encourage children to think and create their own opinions about an event not so long ago but in a time very different to today.
Click on the banner below to download your free project and resources.