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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Games of tig and team games for fitness?

Ms Pah

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Any help or steers appreciated here.

I'm researching for an education resource for children and want to suggest some of the games soldiers played as past of phys ed and training. I did read some stuff on a website not long ago but stupidly forgot to tag it and have googled till my eyes are spinning - can't find. I don't think there's anything in the 1908 Physical Training Manual, other than perhaps a recommendation to play games?)

There were descriptions of games many of us played at school and cubs and brownies, like certain sophisticated types of tig (or tag), the game I know as 'cat and mouse' ( one chasing another through a maze of changing alleyways, created by people in lines with hands joined, changing direction to the cue of a whistle - if you get my drift). Some other team-race games too.

Can anyone point me back to that website, or otherwise illuminate, please? I'd like to suggest these games to teachers to play with their classes, so would like to gather 5 or 6.

Big thanks. LJ

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I don't know which site you're referring to but the British Pathe newsreel http://www.britishpathe.com has some short films that include obstacle races; football in sacks and calisthenics or 'Swedish drills'; and musical chairs with horses - think 'elf and safety' might put the kibosh on that one as well as the ever popular sitting astride a beam and knocking seven bells out of one another with sandbags! I can't find the longer version but this trailer has a couple of examples around 1.15.m

For the Army such activities were planned to enhance unit cohesion therefore they were inevitably team games. 'Football was ubiquitous,' as one soldier from 39th Field Ambulance wrote, 'no part of the Quartermster's Stores was guarded so jealously and packed so securely when we were on the march as the leather sphere which played so large a part in the life of the men when at rest'. The officers tended to play rugby and cricket although there is a photograph of Australians playing cricket on the beach at Gallipoli and there is video of the enactment on you tube. If there was water nearby then there were waterspouts and there are accounts of men drowning while bathing.

The games you describe were inevitably constructed as relay races again involving teams. Other sports were also popular, boxing and rifle shooting, in essence the sports that promoted the military ideal.

Incidentally a typical day 'at rest' was reveille at 6a.m. with roll call at 7a.m., the men then washed and cleaned their arms and kit before breakfast at 8 a.m. Then until dinner time around noon (dinner was the main meal) there were inspections and drill. After dinner was when there were organised games (though the nature of theses was not specified) until about 4pm., when men not on duty were free until lights out at 9.30 a.m. although on at least two days a week there were concerts. The regimental band was popular, the concern was without constant diversion and probably exhaustion there would be mischief among the men. A lot of the time was spent gambling although it was frowned upon and as George Coppered recalled led to fights and in his case continuing financial hardship so it's little wonder the Army tried to keep them occupied and Battalions were required to submit details of their 'rest' activities to Division.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Ken

Many many thanks. Still a newbie to GWF and astounded at the generosity of folks with their knowledge and insight.

I was aware of most the sports undertaken, specially the football, and loved the 'musical horses' ref. However, it's those team games I need most and probably have sufficient now for my purposes.

Have recently found some lovely photo-postcards from POW camps of fancy-dress 'sports days' and all kinds of shenanigans. And in terms of the gambling, I have a lovely sequence of photographs of a group of RFA youngsters, playing with a camera to tell a story-board style tale of what happened to a card cheat.

I loved some of the detail you've provided and set me to think about...

Many thanks again

Best, LJ

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