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Charleschandler

Visiting the Western Front with teenagers

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Charleschandler

Hello all, 

 

After many many trips to the Front over the years (particularly Ypres), taking friends along, small groups etc.,  we’re doing our very first visit in July with friends who have children - two boys, 13 and 15.

 

Looking for some advice - is there any particular reading you’d recommend for that age group to help them relate to what happened, which they could do before we go? And how do you explain / show them things there without completely traumatising them?

 

I’ve asked their parents if they have any relatives who served in the war as I thought it might help to bring it down to an individual human scale.

 

Many thanks

 

ps meant to say - they’re good lads you could take anywhere so I have no concerns about how they’ll behave when we’re there - I just want them to get something out of the trip. 

 

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chaz

the family history aspect is a good start, this would start an itinery.

Martin and Mary Middlebrook's Somme battlefields is a good reference book, not too complicated but sill describes area and features. also laid out in areas.

you could ask their schools if they have anything planned, my two boys were each taken to different ones . one to Terlincthun, the other to Connaught.

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Dave1418

Hi

if you’re going to Hawthorne Ridge look up the IR 119 War diary (English translation) for the 1st July. It’s has some excellent accounts of the battle for the crater and the ensuing hand to hand fighting. Standing on the edge of the crater and looking down onto the sunken lane you can then talk about the troops leaving the sunken lane in line and how the cemetery is laid out next to it, and how they were hit byy interlocking fire from IR121 on Redan Ridge. It’s a position which allows you to see so much in such a small area.

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DorsetDan

The 1916 Battle of the Somme film could be useful ( especially the wonderful Then and Now available on line ) if you are going to the area Dave has suggested . Also the same could be said about the Shrine view point at Mametz , also a lot to see and features in the film .

 

Good luck with your trip   DD

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nigelcave

First question - are they coming because they are naturally interested or coming because their parents are (and for how long are you visiting)? Once that is known, easier to give useful advice.

 

I spent years bringing 14-15 year-olds to the WF and I must admit the thought of 'trauma' had not crossed my mind (possibly because it did not mine when I came for the first time when I was 14). Given what they see on the news these days, not to mention films etc, I think you should be OK with anything that you are likely to share. The fact that there are two of them helps, I think.

 

There was (still is) an excellent A4 sized 'booklet' (48? 64? pages), glossy pages, that I used to help with teenaged small parties; deals with a number of areas and stories in straightforward language, with clear mapping and pix. Of its time, but very useful. I seem to recall seeing copies of it at Thiepval when I was last there. Away from home, so cannot check title.

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simond9x

I agree with DorsetDan about the 1916 film. I'd also recommend that they watch last year's Peter Jackson film 'They Shall Not Grow Old' - being in colour and with added sound, it might appeal more to a young audience. I think anything that brings home to them that these events didn't happen to a bunch of old men, they happened to lads not much older than themselves.

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Herekawe

When I was there last year as my son and I  stood looking  at the Hawthorne crater we had the explosion on my mobile phone.

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keithfazzani

I suspect that like most teenagers they have smart phones. CWGC has two downloadable apps. One covers all cemeteries and memorials and the other is Thiepval specific. Worth having a look at. With the cemetery one they can explore all nearby cemeteries from where they are. If nothing else it demonstrates the scale, they can also feel involved in navigating from site to site. The other one has more detail on Thiepval. They are both free to download. 

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Neil Mackenzie
On 14/05/2019 at 12:23, Charleschandler said:

I’ve asked their parents if they have any relatives who served in the war as I thought it might help to bring it down to an individual human scale. 

 

Where are you going, Ypres, the Somme, both or somewhere else?

 

Even if they haven't got relatives maybe get a few names off their local war memorial - especially if you can find a lad who lived near to them - and find a bit about them.

 

Neil

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