Travel back in time 100 years to the Western Front as you hear Corporal Frederick Horsnell speak to your children.
Of course, there are no soldiers alive today who fought in the First World War, but their voices live on through the letters they wrote.
I am John Malam, a children's non-fiction author, and I own a large collection of original First World War letters written by Cpl Frederick Horsnell to his mother and father back home in Hatfield Peverel, Essex.
Wearing an accurate replica uniform, as worn by Cpl Horsnell, John delivers an exciting (and emotional) first-person role-play session as children hear extracts from Cpl Horsnell's letters, written while on active service on the Western Front.
Cpl Horsnell describes the trenches, the rumble of the guns, and the loss of comrades. There is criticism of the doctors who accuse him of shirking his duty following an injury, sarcasm as the 'Huns keep dropping their dear little shells quite close', and pride in being awarded the Military Medal.
Cpl Horsnell also tells a deeply personal story, as he searches for the grave of his older brother Charles, killed in action in November 1914.
This is Cpl Horsnell's story. These are his actual words.
After the first-person role-play session there are follow-up writing activities for both KS1 and KS2 – a chronological recount and letter-writing in the style of Cpl Horsnell's letters.
First World War resources for schools
John has created the following resources to help you explain the First World War to children:
- Book: The Story of the First World War for Children. An illustrated account of the First World War, chosen by The Times as the Children's Book of the Week and described as "A stand out book. Vital reading for anyone aged 7–107." Signed copies available direct from John (72 pages, £4.99 + p&p).
- Website: www.brothersatwar.co.uk. Read about Charles, Frederick and Arthur Horsnell – 3 brothers, 2 sets of letters, 1 true story.
How to book John (as Corporal Horsnell) for a First World War themed day at your school
Tel: 01606 863540 (Winsford, Cheshire)
John's First World War sessions in detail
Please see John's website for full details of his First World War sessions for KS1 and KS2. His website also describes his full range of other sessions for schools, his available dates and costs:
Autumn term available dates
September: 24th, 29th, 30th.
October: 2nd, 8th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 20th, 24th.
November: 13th, 17th, 19th, 24th-28th.
December: all dates.
Spring term: bookings being taken.
I hope this is of interest, and look forward to hearing from you.