WW1 Commemorations at Bottisham VC
On Wednesday 7th May, 'The Bottishmam VC WW1 Memorial Poppy Garden' was opened. This was started back in November 2013 when Horticulture students planted the poppy seeds. The bed was prepared and the plants planted out in April. Thank you to Mrs Williams and the students for all their hard work.
Members of the British Legion attended an assembly with Year 9s and the new garden was opened, accompanied by The Last Post from Mr Tooley.
World War 1 in Music
Year 9 students studied music from the time of World War 1 as part of the commemoration of the start of this war. The project included listening to examples of popular song from this time and also studying how music was used to accompany silent films such as the ground breaking 1916 film “The Battle of the Somme”. Some students went on to compose songs using authentic lyrics from 100 year old songs, using popular chord patterns and musical devices of the time, but often with a contemporary twist! Other students chose to compose a sound track for an extract from the silent movie. This music was then performed live while the movie was playing, to an audience as it would have been in 1916 when more than half the adult population of Britain went to cinemas to see it. In 1916, a piano or cinema organ would have accompanied the film using tunes of the time. Our students used a range of instruments and musical devices to add appropriate mood to the moving images. This project was also an opportunity to listen to Laura Rossi’s recent work for orchestra which also accompanies the “Battle of the Somme” silent movie. She is currently working with the Imperial War museum, organising some possible future events of commemoration.
The students produced some excellent compositions and here are two examples.
World War 1 in English
Year 9s studied a unit on war poetry and students were asked to take a poem as a stimulus and write a recreation of the poem in another form. Below are two examples.
Recreations - Anthem For Doomed Youth
Where are the bells? The church bells; the church bells that should be ringing for the men who died for their country. They gave up their lives for us, for their country and we don't have the common decency to give them a funeral, a burial, a thought.
These men died as cattle, thrown into a cart like lumps of meat already butchered. Hung on display for everyone to see.
We will only hear monstrous the anger of the guns. No church hymns to bid them farewell, no funeral, no thought. No one will come and look for these men; they will just be left to lay here. Left to rot. Left to die.
Only the stuttering of rifles rapid rattle to send them on their way. Where are the thoughts for these men? Where are the prayers? This isn't fair. They deserve so much more than this. More than just a few words mumbled to say 'thank you' for your lives.
There isn't enough time. Too many men dying too quickly. There isn't enough time to say a prayer for each and every one of the men who are dying on the battlefields. They will not have the honour and respect they deserve; this isn't fair, this isn't right.
Save the choirs, save their voices. No one will hear them sing again. Save the hymns. No choirs to sing at their funerals. What candles may be lit in their honour, their memory. No one will mourn these soldiers. Not in the hands of men but boys, boys too young to die. Boys, too young to die, to fight, to be taken away from us.
Families waiting for their men to return home. Fathers, sons, brothers husbands; these men who still matter to someone out there.
And now, each slow dusk a drawning down of blinds. Asunset. A sun that sets but never reappears. This is the sign to show that their lives have ended, that they have fought well. The honour belongs to them.
by Jess Sparkes
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks they staggered, tripping and falling, mud spurting up their legs, leaving brown blemishes on the lacerated clothing. With the groans of the dying, they dragged each other across the body strewn battle field, the stuttering of the machine guns echoing distantly in the background- their short sporadic bursts as wlld as a mad man and as untamed as a tiger. The occasional whistle of a mortar was ever present as it sent its destructive package to the next unfortunate customer, the hefty metal spheres slipping silently through the sky before erupting in a spectacular showering of sparks and shrapnel.
An ashen sky glistened with the elegant grace of the shells, their ear splitting wail somehow harmonizing in a deadly choir of chemicals and combustion, the owepowering boom as they plummeted into the earth that often resonated through the slimy sludge had morphed into the evil ensemble, like the devils orchestra each deadly dart glided through the air with precision and accuracy, slamming into their target without fault, wave after wave of the silver angels found home on some poor soul, the dull 'Thud' followed by the intense heat and the whoosh as everything was incinerated, even the air was singed. Nothing was safe and there was nowhere to go.
Choking and rasping like old smokers, they inhaled the putrid stench of half decomposed corpses, the vile fumes infesting the nostrils of the scampering soldiers, hands smothered the mouths and noses in a bid the keep the nauseating gasses from trespassing inside their worn bodies. Several men gagged as the odour abused their nostrils, unable to relieve themselves the hideous retching continued. All the men were ghostly white, their skin clung tautly to their bodies, months of malnutrition and stagnant water had beaten down the morale and all had a look of fatigue, nobody wanted to be here, but nobody could be anywhere else.
Through the thick fog crept the deadly monster, the silent assassin the death to all life. Occasionally it would strike an unsuspecting soldier, leaving them howling in pain, writhing in the dugouts that they had created, before moving on to its next victim. Stealthily, it tiptoed forwards, not making a sound, scouring the trenches and poisoning the battlefield, leaving a path of destruction in its wake, they couldn’t see it, nobody could see it.
That's when it struck. -
“GAS! Gas! Quick, boys".
Grinding to a halt, the soldier's sluggish hands moved desperately to retrieve the small brown box that hung on their neck, thin, wavering fingers grasping for the catch, the pin on which rested the fate of the condemned soldiers. Soon the first cries could be heard, shouts of pain and agony – the torture had begun.
Most of the soldiers could be seen wearing their impractical masks, the long crumpled chord with the small metallic box that swung limply on the end reducing visibility drastically and making it difficult to breathe, they stumbled on, their pace hastened by the toxic gas.
Towards the rear of the group a man could be seen struggling, his skin was starting to bubble with white blisters. He covered his eyes, his whole body convulsing in pain, once dangerous lethargy had caused his fatal nd the soldiers around him could do nothing but ignore the criesfor help and continue onwards, their boots trudging in a rhythmic pattern; if they had boots. Most walked barefooted protected only by a mixture of congealed blood and the thick, grimy mud of the French battlefield.
As the soldier fell his body was consumed by the dense green smog, the gas rolling and tumbling like waves on a beach, his face sank beneath the surface, and the cries ended.
One soldier lingered, turning briefly to get a glimpse at the dying man, before moving off with the group.
By Adam Powell