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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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About This Site > Learning Zone > Community Groups: Coming Home

Activities for Community Groups: Coming Home

These activities are designed to be introduced by youth workers and other leaders of children's and young people's groups. They can be used as part of learning activities, drama presentations and community work.

These activities draw on story extracts from the Archive. Story extract titles appear in bold in the activities below, eg A Child Remembers the Outbreak of War. These extracts can be found in the Story Extracts file.

Evacuees returning home

Activity 1

Split the group into pairs and ask each pair together to list the things that they miss about Britain/home when they go on holiday. Then ask them to list the things they like about going on holiday. Discuss whether their lists would change if they stayed away for more than two months.

Explain that young evacuees were sent abroad during World War Two - for example to America, Canada, or South Africa - to escape the war. Discuss whether or not those evacuees would have been pleased to return home in 1945 at the end of the war, and whether they would have missed the things that have been put on the holiday list.

Read out loud extracts from York and Canada: Memories of an Evacuee, A Surrey Boy's War - Evacuation to South Africa, The Atlantic Divide: Evacuated to America. These stories are available in the Story Extracts file.

Split the young people into groups of four. Ask half of the groups to produce a guide for evacuees returning to the UK. This should include details of the problems the evacuees’ parents would have suffered in the war, information about bombing and rationing, and ideas for helping evacuees’ parents cope with the fact that their children have grown up and changed in six years.

Ask the other half of the groups to prepare a guide for the parents of returning evacuees. This should include details of activities the children had taken part in while they were away, how they might feel about having been left abroad for five or six years, how they will have changed in this period of time. Also remember to consider why the children may be nervous about coming home, and why they may feel disorientated.

Ask the young people to read the first two extracts again.

Split the group in half, and then divide each half into groups of three or four. Half the groups are to be the parents of the author of one of the stories they have just read, and the other half the parents of the other author. Give each of the groups the task sheet below.

The returning soldier

Activity 2

Ask the young people to read the following extracts from What is a Daddy? and What Happened when Daddy Came Home. You can find these in the Story Extracts file. Then give them the task sheet below.

Explain that many fathers did not return from the war, and that many families did not speak about their lost loved ones. Describe how this had an impact on a whole generation of children, who grew up wondering about their fathers/parents, but not feeling able to ask questions about them.

The aftermath of war

Activity 3

Split the young people into groups of four, then ask them to read the following extracts: A Holocaust Survivor's Search for or the Truth, I've got a Million Things to Tell You and An Airman's Son - Part 1. You can find these in the Story Extracts file.

Ask them to complete the task sheet below.

Pass the guides around for each group to read in order to decide what points they think were most helpful.

Changing ideas

Activity 4

Read the following extracts as a group.

'The Will to Live': Chapter 40 - Even Freedom Has its Troubles, The Sound of a Lancaster Engine, Remember to Never Forget - the Birth of a Monument, Cassino War Cemetery and Return to Normandy (Part 1). You can find these in the Story Extracts file.

Ask the groups to make a list of the ways in which World War Two influences today's society. Think about novels, films and images. Ask each group to feedback their ideas and discuss as a class. Discuss whether the portrayal of World War Two is a negative or positive force in today's society.

Split the young people into eight groups. Give each group a photograph of a World War Two serviceman or woman from one of the extracts read. Ask the groups to state what they can learn about the life of that person. They should think about how the experience shown in the photograph might have influenced the person's beliefs and dreams, and about how they wanted to live their lives after the war was over. Pupils could suggest points such as a desire to travel with their families, an interest in the history of the places they visited, a higher standard of living so that they could afford holidays, an understanding and tolerance of different cultures and religions. Each group feeds back their ideas to the rest.

Finish by splitting the young people into groups, and asking them to complete the task sheet below.

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