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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Teachers Notes

This work has been designed to fit in to Year 9 of Key Stage 3 History.

This could be taught as a stand alone unit of work, but I would have thought that it will work best following extensive factual teaching of the events of World War One. I have presumed that the pupils are aware of the impact of the Battle of the Somme.

You can find notes to help introduce the poetry. Please note this link will take you off the DRO website, to return to this page please use your browser 'Back' button.

This work is designed to meet QCA KS3 History Unit 18 - 'Hot War, Cold War. Why did the major conflicts of the 20th century affect so many people?'. It will sit nicely in section 1 - 'What were the main features of 20th century warfare'.

It could also be used in Unit 22 - 'The role of the individual for good or ill', if you were trying to follow the impact of pacifism in 20th century British conflicts.

The exercises are source based and designed to provide the pupils with an understanding of how complicated one individual's interpretation of an event might be.

Hopefully the pupils will leave this activity with a view of the Great War as being more complicated than the one they have been traditionally taught - yes the living conditions in the trenches were terrible and the death rates were horrendous, but many soldiers actually enjoyed the friendships and the experiences of being a British soldier.

You might want to bring the role of class into the interpretation of the war experience - members of the Durham Light Infantry were not always as well educated or as well fed as Wilfred Owen might have been. For many working class soldiers, coming from the coal fields of Durham, a soldier's life was preferable to their alternative. This point might be emphasised for the pupils.

Other Curriculum Links

Literacy and Creative Writing

The essay writing activity and the writing frame (should you choose to use it) are obviously an exercise in non fiction writing. The newspaper activity again gives vital practice in extensive writing and could even be used in an English lesson to highlight journalistic bias.

Information Technology

All worksheets can be turned into word files and pupils can access them on line.


Obviously primary sources can be difficult to read - transcripts of all the sources are available. Paper copies can be produced of all worksheets if preferred.