Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Worthing Museum and Art Gallery

This resource provides an interesting perspective on personal WW1 artefacts, and also illustrates how and why censorship functioned during the war.

 

Curriculum Links

  • KS3 & 4 History: WW1
  • KS3-4 English: Writing - Creative Writing; Discussion and debate; working collaboratively with peers
  • KS2 Geography:   Map-making (See downloadable activity)
 
 

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of how soldiers corresponded with their families in WW1 and why their messages were censored
  • Understanding of the significance of mementoes in wartime and the concept of censorship
  • Skills to interpret wartime messages within the context of censorship and analyse artefacts in their historical setting
 

Discussion ideas

  • What would you miss most if you had to be away from home for a long time?
  • Why might soldiers have chosen to send a postcard home rather than writing a letter?
  • What do you think postcards and letters meant to families at home?
  • Why do you think embroidered postcards were popular?
  • What sort of information might soldiers have left out of their letters home?
  • Why do you think censorship was so important in wartime?
  • What sort of information would have been censored?
  • How would you feel if your letters were censored?
 

Activity Ideas

 Postcards were also produced on the Home Front, like these two examples (pictured above) from Morley, near Leeds. Pupils may contrast these cards with those sent by servicemen or carry out research to find other examples.

History:

  • Research: Students can carry out online research to find out more about the 8th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment during the First World War. Questions to investigate might include:
    - Where did the 8th Battalion serve?
    - Which battles did Battalion fight in?
    - Did any of the men within the Battalion receive medals?
    - How many members of the Battalion were killed between 1914 and 1918?
    - Which war cemeteries are they buried in?
    - Do they appear on any monuments?

 

English

  • Write your own postcard from the trenches:

    1) Write your message: Use the research you have done about the 8th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment to write a reply to Billie's postcard. Think about the following:

    - Who might Dick and Billie have been?
    - Where was the 8th Battalion based at Christmas 1915?
    - What had the 8th Battalion experienced by that point?
    - What is the significance of the Belgian flag?
    - Why might the postcard pictured here have been embroidered with '1916' but sent in 1915?
    - What is happening at this point in the war in general? 

    Censor your message: As an additional activity, students could photocopy their cards, then swap the copies with a partner and cross out any information that may have been censored in wartime. 
  • Role-play: In small groups, students can take turns to be a 'soldier writing home' in the hot seat and answer questions about their situation (eg. Who are they writing to? What are they writing in their letter or card? How do they feel about having their mail censored?)

  • Role-play: In small groups, students can take turns to be a 'soldier writing home' in the hot seat and answer questions about their situation (eg. Who are they writing to? What are they writing in their letter or card? How do they feel about having their mail censored?)

  • Role-play: In small groups, students can take turns to be a 'soldier writing home' in the hot seat and answer questions about their situation (eg. Who are they writing to? What are they writing in their letter or card? How do they feel about having their mail censored?)

KS2 Geography:

  • Map-making activity: Using this downloadable activity sheet from the British Postal Museum and Archive students can help a despatch rider to reach the Front Line.

    Students can also use the activity sheet to consider how the processes of delivering the mail differ from WW1 to today. This also acts as a good starting point for undertaking additional research into other areas of communication and military signalling during WW1, such as: radio, semaphore, telegrams, Morse code and pigeons.