“I shall not easily forget those long winter nights in the front line,” wrote F. Noakes in his memoir about World War One, The Distant Drum. “Darkness fell about four in the afternoon and dawn was not until eight next morning. These sixteen hours of blackness were broken by gun flashes, the gleam of star shells and punctuated by the scream of a shell or the sudden heart-stopping rattle of a machine-gun. The long hours crept by with leaden feet and sometimes it seemed as if time itself was dead.”
But time was still moving forwards — and at 11am on 11 November 1918, those noisy guns finally fell silent.
Next Monday marks 101 years since the armistice, and a century since the first official Remembrance Day. It included a two-minute silence as a mark of respect for the dead, a tradition which continues to this day.
In the end, 16 million lives were taken by World War One. And although at the time it was called “the war to end all wars”, many more have followed.
Today, Remembrance Day is a time to pay homage to all those who have been killed in conflict. Who will you be thinking about at 11am next Monday? And why is it important to remember those killed in battle?
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Free world salutes ‘the greatest generation’
Do we need to relearn the importance of resolve, courage and sacrifice? The Queen described the heroes of D-Day as “my generation” — the “resilient” old men and women who saved the world.
‘White poppies are attention-seeking rubbish’
Is it wrong to wear a white poppy? A century after the end of the First World War, some are wearing a white poppy instead of the traditional red, to symbolise peace. Are they disrespectful?
Why it is wrong to celebrate Armistice Day
Should they have? Should we? These were the words of war poet Siegfried Sassoon of the day the guns fell silent in 1918. This Sunday, sombre rituals will mark the centenary of Armistice Day.
To mark last year’s centenary, The Day created a slideshow of rare colour photographs from World War One. Look through the images of the faces and landscapes of the front line. What do they tell us about the war?
- As a class, take it in turns to list words that you associate with the word “war”, and write them on the board. When you are finished, discuss any common themes, images or feelings which emerged.
- Taking inspiration from John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields, write your own poem about a war of your choosing.
- Research the role of either soldiers, women, conscientious objectors, boy scouts, girl guides or doctors and nurses in World War One. Create a presentation about your chosen group.