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This programme is a Living History session designed to immerse students in the lives of people on the British Home Front during World War II. In World War II Jobs the students will meet a Costumed Interpreter who will talk about, demonstrate and perhaps invite students to participate in different jobs that were carried out in Britain.

For World War II Blitz the Costumed Interpreter is in role as an ARP Warden, and this session focuses on a range of experiences that were commonplace during the air raids of the Second World War.

Accommodates up to three classes (max. 35 students per class). Two 45 minute led sessions plus 45 minutes of free time.

National Curriculum Links

KS2 History: A study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066:

  • changes in an aspect of social history
  • a significant turning point in British history.

World War 2: Blitz

Session objectives

  • To be able to understand how ordinary life and people in Britain were affected by the Second World War through learning about their experiences on the Home Front through costumed interpretation, artefacts and activities.
  • To experience what aspects of life were like on the Home Front during the Second World War, including: air raids, gas masks, Anderson shelter, the blackout, plane identification and the role of an ARP warden.

 Key facts

  • It is a led 45 minute session for up to one class of 35 students (plus accompanying adults).
  • It is particularly suitable for KS2, and can also be adapted to KS1.
  • The World War 2 Blitz session is designed to complement the other themed session of World War 2 Jobs. There are therefore two 45 minute led sessions and the third session is a self-led opportunity to explore the museum further.

Topics covered by the ARP Warden (approximately 25 minutes)

  • The role of the ARP Warden: who they were and what they did
  • The ARP Warden’s clothing and equipment: an opportunity for a member of the group to dress up and assist in demonstrating what the ARP Warden wore and why. Examine the special equipment issued to Wardens, the vast majority of which is original WW2 artefacts.
  • Gas masks: try on the replica gas masks and learn why they were so important
  • Air raids: how air raids were carried out and the dangers for Britain. Identify the sound of the warning siren and the all clear siren
  • The Blitz and plane identification: what the Blitz was and what happened. Play the plane identification game – is that friend or foe flying overhead?
  • Air raid shelter: in small groups, accompany the ARP Warden into our Anderson shelter to experience what it was really like for families sheltering from the bombs

Hands-on activities (approximately 20 minutes)

While the ARP Warden accompanies small groups into the Anderson shelter, the rest of the class will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities such as:

  • Dressing up – in replica wartime costumes (please put these on over everyday clothes)
  • Family Shelter Boxes – can you match the family to the belongings they have collected to take into the Anderson shelter?
  • Wartime Journeys – 5 pieces of luggage, 5 characters. From the list of people you have, whose luggage are you looking at and how can you tell?
  • Plane card game – pit your wits against your opponents in a game of snap, or try some friend or foe identification
  • Blackout Mystery Object - a suitcase of blackout-related items, but can you use them to help you identify the mystery object?

World War 2: Jobs

Session objectives

  • To be able to understand the new roles taken on by women and men at home in Britain during WW2, why these roles were required and what was involved.
  • To experience the variety of roles and tasks both women and men undertook on the British Home Front during WW2 through Costumed Interpreter first person recount, historic objects and some participation.

 Key facts

  • It is a led 45 minute session for up to one class of 35 students (plus accompanying adults).
  • It is particularly suitable for KS2, and can also be adapted to KS1.
  • The World War 2 Jobs session is designed to complement the other themed session of World War 2 Blitz. There are therefore two 45 minute led sessions and the third session is a self-led opportunity to explore the museum further.
  • The WW2 jobs covered will vary according to the facilitator, available resources and available museum space on the day. We regret that schools are unable to request coverage of a particular WW2 role, and different classes may experience different WW2 jobs.

Characters you might meet

Nurse Constance

She is treating civilian and military patients at Basingstoke’s Park Prewett Hospital, which has been commandeered for the war effort, and has many tales to tell. She is also keen to train everybody she meets in the art of bandaging, just in case…

Mr or Mrs Allright, the Bus Conductor/Conductress

With the men gone off to fight, the bus conductor welcomes new recruits to train. Full of fascinating facts about wartime transport and the blackout, everybody also gets a chance to board the 1935 bus.

Walter Walsingham, the Train Driver

In a reserved occupation as a locomotive driver, Walter shows off the ‘Woolmer’ locomotive and a day in the life of a driver and fireman during WW2. Pick up some hints and tips on keeping the railways running, which was vital to winning the war.

Betty, the ATS Clerical Worker

Working hard to support the army in her role with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Betty’s employment helps to free up men to fight. She enjoys this new kind of women’s work and her typewriter certainly looks nothing like modern keyboards!

Queenie Stacey, the WVS Volunteer (Feeding the Troops)

Mrs Stacey is part of the Women’s Voluntary Service, helping out in the mobile catering vans providing food and drink for wagons full of soldiers at Basingstoke Railway Station. She also provides meals for the schoolchildren.

Queenie Stacey, the WVS Volunteer (Make Do and Mend)

‘Make Do and Mend’ and recycling keep Mrs Stacey busy in this time of hardship. She is an expert in making something new out of something old, sometimes in the most surprising way – her ingenious ‘woolly friend’ toy design is always popular.

Mrs Forsyth at the Ministry of Food

A stickler for the rationing rules, she will ensure that everybody knows about the ration books and coupons, and which foods are rationed. However it might be best to avoid her wartime recipes which contain slightly unusual ingredients!

Maggie or Albert, the Thornycroft factory worker

The Thornycroft factory once stood where Morrison’s supermarket is now, on the opposite side of the roundabout to Milestones Museum. Maggie/Albert helps to make vehicles such as the Amazon recovery lorry that can be seen here.

Optional extras:

1940s sweetshop – £1.50 for one ‘ration’. This is a replica ration book which can be used to receive 2 ounces (approximately 57 grams) of sweets in the 1940s sweetshop. Term-time opening hours 1pm-3pm subject to change – please check on the day to confirm times. These can be paid for on the day or invoiced separately following your visit. Please note that if paying on the day, we accept payment for the total amount only by cash, card or cheque. We regret that we are unable to accept multiple individual payments due to time constraints.

WW2 Public Air Raid Shelter Experience - £1.00 per student, supervising adults free. Suitable for classes on the World War Two programme, the public air raid shelter is an audio visual experience giving a flavour of what it was like during an air raid. Feel the seats shake as the bombs rain down, hear local people's stories and heed the ARP Warden's instructions! Accommodates one group at a time (and supervising adult), duration 10 minutes.