Pupils at Nuneaton Academy have taken part in a workshop on First World War battle medicine as part of an activity run by Nuneaton-based Frontline Living History. Around 120 pupils in Year 10 and 11 at the Academy had the chance to experience life in the trenches by trying the weight of a soldier’s pack, wearing the uniform, handling original artefacts and practising how to carry a casualty on a stretcher.
Carla West who teaches history at Nuneaton Academy said, “We were pleased to welcome David Allton and Richard Townsley from Frontline Living History, who really brought their subject to life for our history students. The activities and equipment that they got the chance to use really opened their eyes. Role-playing carrying casualties off the field of battle helped them to relate to the privations of battlefield medical care and the practical realities of war. They were also shown some weaponry from the period as well as pieces of shrapnel that enabled pupils to visualise the types of injuries that soldiers might have experienced.
“Pupils were also encouraged to pass around and examine lead shot, a trench mace and a variety of helmets from both sides of the conflict. David and Rich also demonstrated how Thomas splints were used to effectively reduce the death rate from compound leg fractures from 80 to 20 per cent. The pupils really enjoyed the experience and it really brought to life a topic which is an essential part of their GCSE.”
Pupils reacted to the session with Josh P describing it as, ‘absolutely fantastic’ and Melissa T as ‘really interesting’. Etienne H said, "It helped to develop my understanding of battlefield medicine." And James B said, "I learned that the equipment a soldier had to carry was really heavy."
David Allton, who set up Frontline Living History said, "I have always loved history; it's given me a tremendous respect for the people of the past as well as a sense of my own place in time. Frontline Living History is about me using my skills and enthusiasm to communicate that passion, and to inspire others to engage actively with the past and understand how it shapes their lives today. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the pupils and staff at Nuneaton Academy who displayed an impressive knowledge of the subject and great enthusiasm. We hope the session was useful to them and will help them prepare for their summer exams.”