It’s a well-known trope – the old moaning about how the young have got it easy.
But none of us can argue about the horrific conditions soldiers had to endure during the First World War, and their bravery – with some 250,000 answering the call of duty despite being under the legal fighting age of 19.
The youngest, Sidney Lewis, was just 12 when he lied about his age and joined the Army – surviving the Battle of Delville Wood before being sent home on the orders of his furious mum!
At one primary school yesterday, just days before the world pauses to mark 100 years since the end of the global conflict, pupils not too much younger than Sidney were given a taste of the trench warfare that was mucky and miserable at best, and deadly at worst.
As well as digging trenches in the school field, 22 youngsters in Year Six at Thornton Primary School, in Heys Street, spent the day outside, and even cooked and ate their
lunch there yesterday.
Headteacher David Ashcroft said: “They have been learning about the First World War this term and the importance of remembering the sacrifice soldiers made.
“I said, ‘You are 10 or 11 years old, and children not much older than you were going over to France and fighting, and these are some of the hardships they would have faced.’
“It was about bringing that to life. If you don’t teach our children now, they will not teach their children, and eventually it becomes lost in history, doesn’t it?”
After tucking into baked potato and beans, the children went over the top – and faced a barrage of soft balls.