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    People's War
    "May the fathers long tell the children"
    St John Fisher Year 6
    Year 6 at St John Fisher School, St Albans learnt about D-Day

    When learning about D-Day, young pupils at a St Albans School realised that war holds the same fears whatever side you are on. They also learnt about a pivotal moment in world history. Then in words and pictures they imagined they were there. Enjoy their work below.

    Year 6's D-Day interviews

    audio Georgia and Maggie


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    If you're tempted to think that the D-Day anniversary events are merely a chance for those who were there to reminisce about their part in it then think again.

    "May the fathers long tell the children about this tale" Winston Churchill once said of World War II, so he for one would be very pleased that the D-Day anniversary is providing a platform for young people to learn about not only a key event in World War II but a pivotal moment in world history.

    In the classroom
    Learning about D-Day in the classroom

    We visited a St Albans school who had used their learning about the D-Day landings to put themselves in the same position and through words and pictures, realised that war is the same for everybody - whatever side you are on.

    Like many young people all over the country, year 6 at St John Fisher RC School in St Albans have been learning about the events both leading up to D-Day and the day itself.

    They then imagined that they were either taking part in the operation itself, either as a British, American or German soldier, or that they were reporting on it. By looking at their work (see below) you can tell that they have really taken on board not only the factual information about how and why it happened, but also what it must have felt like to be involved.

    What shows in their writing is that they discovered that although they were fighting on different sides, the feelings of trepidation and terror were common to both.

    Their class teacher Kevin Creaton explained that before they started, they put the whole war into context before looking at some footage on the video and various texts.

    They then embarked on various pieces of writing in the style of newspaper articles and diary entries, and concentrated on thinking about what it must have been like at the time from different sides.

    "The film The Longest Day gives both an overview and a range of perspectives" he explained.

    "So we used the idea of having a range of perspectives in the classroom to do some diary writing from the point of view of the Germans stationed in Normandy, the French Resistance, American paratroopers and the British Infantry."

    He revealed that the children had really taken the subject to heart and while they had enjoyed the work, as a teacher he had also been careful to stress the seriousness of the subject and what we can learn from it today.

    Man in the War
    Man in the War by Jamie P

    Their study of these events also encapsulated a lot of other subjects, such as geography, and Mr Creaton said that, all in all, the project had been a great success.

    "It's been very good and great for their writing" he said.

    "They've really got into it and we even practised storming the beaches in the playground. They really enjoyed it but you have to then remind them of how serious the whole subject is.

    "But looking at their writing there does seem to be a sense of angst coming through as well" he added.

    He also stressed how important it was for younger people to learn about such things.

    "I showed them stills of Auchwitz from 1944 which helped them to understand what was going on in Europe at the same time" he explained.

    "We also talked about how Poland was carved up and how Russia suffered terribly during the war and how global the war was.

    "We take so much for granted nowadays and it saddens me that children aren't quite so aware of the war" he continued.

    "It could all have been so different. It's such a significant piece of history for mankind and just to have that within living memory and for people not to be fully aware of it is scandalous to a certain extent.

    "Just to reflect on the amount of human suffering that did take place and to appreciate that suffering and wars and atrocities are still taking place is important."

    While we were at the school we also talked to the children about interviewing techniques. They then took the roles of war reporters and soldiers, thought up their own questions and interviewed each other using our recording equipment. You can hear some of the results using the links in the left hand column.

    Our day there finished with a prayer for peace. I don't think any more needs to be added to that. Except to say look at their work below.

    D-Day landings
    D-Day Landings by Daniel O
    Jessica N
    As the Allied Forces storm the beaches of Normandy, the beginning of the end draws near for Hitler.

    Yesterday (6th June 1944) at dawn, our brave lads stormed the beaches of Normandy in France. The Germans had taken over France. The unsuspecting Germans were scared out of their skins as a fleet of about 4,000 ships closed in with over 150,000 troops. The landing of these troops had a secret codename - Operation Overlord.

    We caught up with John H. Flannigon, a fighter that survived the D-Day landings.

    "I was scared stiff. There were lots of Germans firing at us from the trenches. As soon as I stepped off the landing craft into the water, we had to run for cover" he said.

    Our reporter radioed in and said how we had the Germans running. Was that really the case?

    "Yes, thankfully. The Americans landed on the other beaches and really got bogged down, so we're very lucky" he said.

    He also explained why our soldiers were so eager to win this coastline battle. "We want to get them back for that incident at Dunkirk."

    Dear Diary
    Georgia M

    5th June 1944
    Today's weather has been really terrible for June, it's been really rainy and windy all day. Because of the bad weather the attack has been postponed but I'm actually quite relieved because I was really nervous about having to fight.

    I'm really missing my family now, I wish I could be with them back in England. I hope they are all OK and haven't been hurt or anything. I'm starting to get really scared now. I hope we don't have to go yet.

    6th June 1944
    It's now 6.04am and we've just landed on Gold beach. Some of my soldier friends have already been captured and we've killed a few Germans. That means less people to fight.

    I wish we could go home now. I've had enough of all this fighting. I don't actually like trying to kill people. It makes me feel sick.

    The atmosphere here is horrible, people shooting each other, loud banging noises of the guns firing at people, screams and shouts of dying men. It's absolutely horrifying.

    Dear Diary
    Laura M

    June 5th 1944
    All it is now is waiting and more waiting. Yesterday's weather was really bad, rain, cold and even a storm. Today is the slightest bit better as it is not raining as much and it's a degree or two warmer. It's 18.20 exactly now and at 2.00 we're bombing the railway. A few of my friends in the Resistance have been caught and tortured. I'm really scared. We have just received a code. I don't know what it's saying.

    I hope it's a clean battle and that none of us gets really badly injured.

    We have been listening on our secret radio getting ready for the night time.

    June 6th 1944
    It's almost time, just 25 minutes left. At least six of my friends have been captured. One of my best friends too, George. On the 5th of June more had been captured. We saw some even be tortured in front of our eyes.

    I want my family and I want to know that I'm safe. My heart is pumping so I stand up. I'm terrified!

    It's time to blow up the railway. At this point I really don't want to be here.

    It's now 2.20, the railway has blown up and it's all over. Nothing has really changed, there are just pieces of metal everywhere. I'm glad it's over but I want my family and friends.

    D-Day Landings
    D-Day by Alison F
    Dear Diary
    Tara R

    5th June 1944
    I hate being here in France. I want to go back to Germany, my home, but I'm scared the Russians will invade Germany.

    We're losing the war in Italy at the moment.

    The weather is terrible here. It's raining really heavily, so there won't be a battle tonight.

    I'm really missing my family, especially my children and wife. I wish this war will end soon.

    6th June 1944
    Today we saw 4,000 ships! We were terrified. The English came and landed on this beach. They captured loads of Germans and some of them were very good friends. I wish I wasn't in the war. The Germans and I were nervous and scared fighting and we were also very tired. The fight killed loads of us. It's horrible knowing your friends are captured because we have been told they are going to be tortured.

    It's scary here with loud bangs. Sometimes the ground shakes. Bombs drop making huge explosions. There are loads of dead bodies everywhere which makes me sad.

    The weather today was slightly better than yesterday, not that it makes much difference.

    I am really missing my family. I hope they are all well, especially the children. I am going to write to them soon. I'd better go to bed now, bye.

    Is it all coming to an end for Hitler?

    Yesterday at around 2am the Allied Forces covered the beaches and Lands of Normandy.

    With over 156,000 troops covering Normandy's land it now looks like the Germans will be having a hard time.

    4,000 ships overflowed sword beach and many more. There were different types of ships such as the warships, the landing craft and the minesweepers. There were 3323 landing craft, 467 warships and 150 minesweepers.

    Already the French Resistance have blown up a railway and it has been said they have been sending secret codes to each other. Whether or not this statement is true - that is up to you to be decided.

    I interviewed James Stone before he left and this is what he said.

    Q. How are you feeling now about D-Day?

    James: I'm really scared, I'm frightened and worried. I want my family with me there, all the way. I know that won't happen and I wish D-Day wasn't happening.

    Q. What are you most scared of?

    James: Everything. I'm scared I'll get captured and then tortured. As I have said I'm scared of losing my family, or should I say my family is scared of losing me.

    Dear Diary
    Jessica N

    5th June 1944
    I've been waiting to know when we are going to go off to Benouville (6 miles north of Caen) which is in German occupied France.

    When we do go we all sit in a glider and we wait for it to land. We use a glider because it is silent. Then what should happen is that we storm the bridge and kill the Germans that are guarding it.

    In the meantime I gamble. I am going to try my luck now and see what I can win with £2. I'll write again later.

    I don't believe it! £20.00. That's what I can win with £2. The weather's pretty bad so I'll find out soon.

    We're going at 12.00 tonight.

    6th June 1944
    We took over the bridge. I nearly got shot. We killed the Germans in the area and are now having to guard the bridge and wait for reinforcements. We also have to keep it German-free.

    The weather's a bit better today but waiting is boring. We have to keep on our toes in case the Germans try to win back the bridge. A couple of my friends were shot. One of them broke their leg on the rough landing. We just thumped to the ground. The beginning of the end is near for the Germans.

    I'm really scared and jumpy at the moment and I miss my home and family. Being a British Commando isn't easy.


    Les Dinning from Milton Keynes returns to Normandy for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day

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