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Remembrance Day

Themes: Remembrance Day; remembering; 100 years since The Armistice.

Summary: On Remembrance Day we remember all those whose lives have been affected by conflict since World War 1, and those who have died in particular. 11 November 2018 marks one hundred years since the signing of The Armistice, which brought WW1 to an end. This assembly explores 'remembering' and the video clip features a soldier from WW1 recording his experiences in his diary.

Resources: an image of poppies and The Last Post (see 'Key links').

Key links

The video:

I won't forget a single one of them. Not ever.

September, 1914. Walter Bush records in his diary how he enlists in the army with best friend, Harry Parker, and how they travel to the trenches of the Western Front. Harry is eager for action, but when their turn comes to go 'over the top' Walter is injured by a shell and resumes his diary in a military hospital in England. Once he has recovered it is his painful duty to visit Harry's mother - to tell her what he knows of the circumstances of Harry's death in the same attack. Walter tells Mrs Parker that he was with Harry at the end and that he 'didn't suffer' - though in reality he knows nothing about Harry's death. Walter says he will always remember Harry - and all the others he fought alongside.

Duration: 6' 28"

End of speech: '...I won't forget a single one of them. Not ever.'

Story questions

How does Walter's mother react to him 'signing up'?

She's anxious and tells Walter he is a 'stupid boy'

What happens as the soldiers' train approaches the coast?

The happy mood of the soldiers changes to apprehension. Walter says perhaps the soldiers are remembering their mothers - just as he is

What does it mean to go 'over the top'?

An attack begins with ladders being placed against the side of the trench so that the soldiers can climb up and go 'over the top'

What signal is used to start the attack?

Whistles are blown along the length of the trench - Walter says it sounds like 'hundreds' of them

What injury did Walter receive in battle?

He has lost a leg and had it replaced with a new false one - which he is struggling to get used to

What does Walter know about the circumstances of Harry's death?

Nothing at all - he says that all he knows is that Harry and he went over the top together...and that Harry never came back

Suggested framework

Content Guidance
1. Entry music 'Nimrod' from the 'Enigma Variations' Op 36 by Elgar features in many formal acts of Remembrance. See 'Related links' - which also includes an audio file of 'The Last Post', which can be downloaded and a link to our collection of WW1 song medleys which provide instrumental versions.
2. Introduction Lead a discussion about remembering with some or all of the following questions: What is your earliest memory? What do you remember about your first day at this school? Do you remember how you felt? Who knows what Remembrance Day is? Then: 'Remembrance Day is a special day for remembering. It happens on 11 November each year and it remembers the day in 1918 when the First World War ended with the signing of an agreement called 'The Armistice'. This year the commemoration happens exactly 100 years since that war ended. One hundred years is a long time - and the lives of the people who lived then can seem remote from our own lives today. So to find out more about being a soldier in World War 1 - and why we choose to remember - we're going to watch a story called 'A soldier's tale.'
3. The video Play the video. The duration is 6' 28" and the final words are: '...forget a single one of them. Not ever.'
4. After the video Use the Story questions to help children to talk about the story they have watched: 1. How did Walter's mother react to him 'joining up'? 2. How did the soldiers react as their train neared the coast? 3. What does it mean to go 'over the top?' 4. What signal was used to start the attack? 5. What injury did Walter receive? 6. What does he know about the circumstances of Harry's death?
5. Time to talk Lead a discussion on why it is important to remember those people whose lives have been affected by war - and those people who have lost their lives in particular.
6. Opportunity to sing An opportunity to sing your chosen song. Suggestions from BBC collections appear below.
7. Opportunity for reflection 'Today we've been thinking about remembering - and about remembering those people whose lives have been affected by wars and conflict in particular. Think quietly about why it is important that we remember those people... And think about a special memory that you have - perhaps a special person...or a special place.' You could bring the reflection to a close by reading the words from Laurence Binyon's poem 'For the fallen': 'They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old / Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. / At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.' Or you could close the reflection by playing the extract from 'The Last Post' (see 'Related links').
8. Opportunity for prayer Use your usual form of address ('Dear God', 'Lord Jesus' etc) and: 'At this time of remembering, we want to pray for those whose lives have been affected by war. We are grateful for those men and women who fought for our freedom. Amen.'

Suggested songs

Title Collection Significant words
'Peace is flowing' Come and Praise, no 144 'Peace is flowing like a river / Spreading out into the desert'
'Chain of love' (video - see Related links) All about our school, no 14 'Fill the world with love... / Make a fresh start for the human race'