Theatre still of young man reflecting on his fears for his future, sitting on a WW1 camp bed the night before heading to the Front.
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A performance about a young First World War soldier at Leicester’s YMCA theatre © Historic England
A performance about a young First World War soldier at Leicester’s YMCA theatre © Historic England

Leicester Schoolchildren Remember Passchendaele

Find out about the East Midlands Heritage Schools trail around important buildings from the First World War in Leicester.

150 pupils plus teachers met in anticipation at Leicester’s YMCA theatre. 100 years ago, hundreds of soldiers had slept in the hall as they passed through the city. The pupils watched a moving performance. A young man lay awake late at night on his way to basic training. He spoke about his hopes and fears for his uncertain future at the Front.

The group then split and walked to different sites around the city:

The Magazine Gateway

At the site of the former Regiment Barracks, the pupils took part in parade drills.  A drill sergeant directed his ‘troops’ to march, stand at ease and come to attention.

School girls standing behind a parade sargeant watching him shout out orders.
© Historic England

Leicester Regiment Museum at Newalke House Museum

The classes met a soldier on leave from the Passchendaele. They were fascinated by his Lee Enfield rifle. They also visited the reconstructed trenches at the Museum.

A re-enactor holds a Lee Enfield Rifle at the Leicester Regiment Museum.
© Historic England

St George's Chapel at Leicester Cathedral

The chapel is dedicated to the Leicester Regiment. The classes saw a silver crucifix cross rescued from the burning Cathedral at Ypres. On the wall of the chapel were plaques commemorating the dead.

Two school boys make notes seated next to a carved screen in St George's Chapel at Leicester Cathedral
© Historic England

Leicester Town Hall

By 1917, men were being conscripted into the army. The pupils met a Recruitment Sergeant from the Leicester Regiment. He 'persuaded' the pupils to sign up on the dotted line!

Group photo of children standing next to the Leicester Regiment recruitment sargeant displaying their sign-up papers.
© Historic England

New Walk Museum

The pupils handled familiar objects to find out more about every day in life in Leicester.

The former Liberal Club on Bishop Street

The pupils learned more about the conditions in the trenches. John Coster explained how the war was reported in Britain. The pupils compared these to modern conflict reporting.

The backs of heads of pupils (all wearing head scarves)  look towards the front of a classroom where a teacher gestures towards a projected black and white photo.
© Historic England

All involved had a fantastic experience. Everyone understood more about how the First World War affected the people of Leicester.

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