Friday, July 1, 2016

Commemoration of Local Soldiers and the Battle of the Somme

On Monday the 20 June, Wakefield Museum was pleased to host a visit by four pupils, Emily-Jo, Rachel, Holly and Nell, and their history teacher, Miss Quartermain, from Kettlethorpe High School. The purpose of the visit was very special – to install a display created by the pupils to commemorate the First World War.

Kettlethorpe pupils and teacher responsible for making and installing this moving display - Holly, Nell, Ms Quartermaine, Rachel and Emily-Jo
The pupils had conducted research to find out about two First World War soldiers – Pte Frank Hollings and Sgt Nelson Summers – both of whom had connections with the Wakefield area.

Pte Hollings was born and raised in Sandal and was associated with the Harriers at Thornes Park. He died on 20 December, 1915 in a gas attack in Ypres. He was 20 years old.

Sgt Summers was in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Though born in Staffordshire, in his adulthood he lived in Horbury and worked at Charles Roberts & Co. railway works. Sgt Summers was married and had three children. He died at the Battle of the Somme on 1 July, 1916 at the age of 30.

The pupils were able to make contact with some of Sgt Summers’ descendants. His granddaughter was able to tell them that, prior to the outbreak of WWI, Nelson Summers was a member of the Territorials in Wakefield.

Kettlethorpe pupil, Rachel, working with curator, John Whitaker, to install the WWI display in the museum entrance

In addition to conducting their local research, Emily-Jo, Rachel and Miss Quartermain had the opportunity through a government funded programme to journey to France and Belgium to see the WWI battlefields for themselves. One of the objectives set for the pupils by this programme was to share what they saw, learned and experienced with at least 110 other people. The pupils chose written words and art as the mediums through which to share this information.

With this in mind, the school asked if the pupils could display their finished work at Wakefield Museum - and we were very happy to say ‘yes’. The result is a very moving display with, at its centre, a beautifully crafted patch-work textile that illustrates different aspects of what soldiers like Pte Hollings and Sgt Summers experienced during the war and the ways in which we remember WWI soldiers today. This is accompanied in the display by an original drawing dedicated to the memory of Pte Hollings and Sgt Summers created by Lucy, a pupil who was not able to attend for the installation, as well as text cards that reveal what the pupils learned about the lives of the two local soldiers and the impact this project has had on the pupils themselves. The display reached the target of attracting 110 viewers within two days.

Beautifully made patchwork textile commemorating Pte Hollings and Sgt Summers

The installation of the Kettlethorpe pupils’ display in Wakefield Museum is very timely as 1 July, 2016 marks 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.
It is joined by a second commemorative display installed by our curatorial and design team in the atrium on the Upper Ground Floor of Wakefield One which features a wrist watch that was worn by Captain R. England, also of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, during the war. On a paper tag attached to the watch Captain England typed, ‘D [Company] was timed to “go over the top” at 7.48 a.m. on the 1 July and this is the watch which timed that event in the battle’.  Captain England survived the Battle of the Somme and donated the watch to Wakefield Museum in 1974. On a paper tag attached to the watch when it was donated are typed the following words: 'D [Company] was timed to "go over the top" at 7.48 a.m. on the 1st July and this is the watch which times that event in the battle".

A wrist watch belonging to Captain R. England and worn at the Battle of the Somme. This watch is now at the centre of a commemorative display at Wakefield One.

New display to commemorate the Battle of the Somme
Both displays can be viewed at Wakefield One throughout the summer

We have also launched a new Downloadable Resource Pack for Schools. 
Click on the image below to download.
Downloadable Teachers' Pack


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