As we have in previous few years, Year 6 headed to Bodmin Keep to explore the Military Museum. Bodmin Keep is the historical home of the DCLI; the barracks for which many of our ancestors signed up in and trained at as members of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
To help immerse ourselves in to the lives of young soldiers we took part in two workshops. One, where we were able to explore their replica trench where we discussed the dismal living conditions and even had a go at heading ‘over the top’ ourselves. During the second workshop, we had the opportunity to look at ‘Somme’ letters that were written by soldiers in 1914 from the muddy battlefields on France. Here we really felt the emotion connected with these letters and the sensitivity with which we were going to need to write our own. We then had the chance to write pen some ideas to take back to school with us for our very own letters.
During our guided tour we learnt all about how the keep was used to train and house recruits who later went onto fight in France and Belgium as part of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry before housing visiting G.I Joes in the lead up to the D-Day landings in 1944.
The building is rich with British Military history and a plethora of artefacts and replicas to explore and discuss including; Mary tins, a present from Princess Mary to serving soldiers in 1914; genuine WW1 clothing, helmets and boots; food stuffs from the time of WW1, including a VERY hard tac biscuit; and soldiers personal possessions, such as boot polish, button polishers and shaving kits. A new addition to the museum is a exhibit on the United Nations and the roll the British Forces play in peacetime; helping maintain the peace across the world and well as helping with natural disasters.
We had a truly awe-inspiring day where many of our current day to day difficulties were put into persecutive. We left feeling very grateful to live in the world in which we do and will be taking our first hand experience of the trench back to school with us and using it to help write our very own letters from the Somme.