Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wartime Days Brought to Life by the Veterans

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wartime Days Brought to Life by the Veterans

Article excerpt

History came to life for pupils when local veterans took charge of a lesson about the Second World War.

Students aged 13 to 18 from Walbottle Technology College in the west of Newcastle interviewed older people, including their own grandparents, to learn more about life in Britain between 1939 and 1945.

They taped conversations and took pictures which will be used to produce an archive of War memories to share with other schools and community groups.

The youngsters heard stories of life on the home front, evacuation and active service overseas.

They also got to handle artefacts including gas masks and ration books.

Teachers hope they will be able to repeat the experiment in the spring to take part in a BBC project called Voices of the Second World War.

The students loved interviewing the older people but were surprised at how most of them looked back at the War without resentment or anger.

Jon Aydon, 17 said: "I was surprised that even after Dunkirk in 1940, people never thought they would lose the War. All our visitors always believed throughout the war that Britain would win. Most people remembered the impact of Winston Churchill's speeches."

Other students were impressed by the lack of complaining. None of the older people mentioned stress.

Most remembered happy times with extended families and neighbours gathered for an evening playing cards or singing around the piano.

They asked the guests how they felt at the time and were surprised when the consistent answer was that it was just life and they accepted it now as they had then.

Tommy Gibson, 78, and her husband Craig, 79, from Whickham, Gateshead, described their time in the Wrens and as a rear gunner respectively.

Mrs Gibson started working in signaling when she was just 17 and travelled to London, Germany and Malta. …

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