Battle of Passchendaele Schools Project

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Chris Hallet and Keith Brindle

On 5th July 1917 we held a conference for Year Nine school students (aged 14 AND 15) at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds.  The event was the culmination of about a years’ work.  We gave the students a teaching pack to orientate them to the clinical practices of nurses close to the front lines of the Battle of Passchendaele. We then invited them to set down their thoughts in writing.  We were helped by some very enthusiastic and welcoming teachers from three Yorkshire Schools: Richmond School, Wakefield Girls’ High School and Ossett Academy.

Before meeting the students again at the Thackray, we had a preliminary look at their work and were pleased to find how deeply they had engaged in the project.  Many of their writings were truly inspiring.  One student, Abigail King, had written an original song, ‘Nurses of Passchendaele’ and others had composed letters or diary entries in the style of a First World War nurse or soldier-patient.

The English Department at Wakefield Girls’ High School had engaged their students in producing some highly literary works, some of which were reminiscent of the modernist writings of authors such as Mary Borden and Ellen La Motte, while the History Department at Richmond had modelled the style and content of their writings on existing First World War diaries and letters.  Our article can be accessed in this year’s issue of the Bulletin of the UK Association for the History of Nursing.

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