soldiers possessions

A soldier’s possessions
Using artefacts to explore personal experiences in WW1
What will we learn?
This activity will help you to learn that:
•Artefacts (objects made by people) are
historical sources – information about the
past doesn’t just come from written sources!
•Artefacts can be read– even when they
don’t have writing on them - in order to gain
information about the past
•Artefacts provide lots of different kinds of
information about the experiences of
soldiers fighting in WW1
‘Reading’ artefacts
• No words here – but I bet
you know exactly what
these two objects are, and
what they mean to the
people who use them
• In other can
‘read’ the messages they
are sending out
• All objects (archaeologists
call them artefacts) say
things about the people
and the societies who use
them, or want them
Have a go at reading these:
What does owning (or wanting) these say about you?
What signals or messages are they sending out to other people?
Reading artefacts from WW1
This artefact was made in 1916, by an Australian army driver.
His name was Ewen MacDonald. He fought at Passchendaele, and survived the war.
What is it? What is it made from?
Think about what this object might tell us about this man, and his war.
Some things to think
Off duty
Friends and comrades
Class Review of the Artefacts
Four tables, four objects, four groups
One object on each table
3 minutes then move on!
These are real objects from WW1 – be careful
with them!
Things to think about . . .
• Do you know what it is?
• What is it made of?
• What can you see? Draw it!
• What do you think it’s for?
• What information does it contain?
Object 1
- What are they
- Why are there two?
- What are they made
Why are they different colours?
• Identity tags started to be
used by Britain in 1907
• Originally soldiers had just
one tag
• They received two from
September 1916
• Why?
• Originally made of
• Asbestos was cheaper - and
could survive fire
Reading the details
P Yeomans
The tags indicate
some or all of
Object 2
- What is it made
- Tell me about
the pictures on
it… What do they
- What words are
- What might it have
meant to the soldiers?
Who might she
M is for…
These are the names of
countries – why might these
names be here?
Christmas – what do
we most like about
• Princess Mary Tin
• 17 year-old Princess Mary
(daughter of King George V)
created the ‘Sailors and
Soldiers fund’
• Donations from the public to
send soldiers on the Front a
parcel on Christmas day 1914
• Items in the tin included
chocolate, pipes, cigarettes,
tobacco, pencils, sweets.
• In each corner are the names
of the allies, with France and
Russia named either side
• 355,000 were successfully
delivered by Christmas
Object 3
- What was it for?
- Why do
you think it
- What can you see?
• This is a Sweetheart Brooch
• Like a wedding ring, it marked a
person out as being connected to
someone who was away
• A symbol of national pride and
• A way of connecting the people
on the home front and on the
front line
• In this case the dagger represents
the bayonet that a soldier would
have attached to the end of his
• The name ?
• The trench area where he was
fighting (Dixmude)
• The ‘trenches of
• Held by the
Belgians for four
years – the battle
of the Yser
Object 4
• What is it made of?
• What would it be used for?
- Who made it?
The decoration here was made using repousse
technique: the maker has used a small tool (perhaps a
nail or the needle from his sewing kit) to punch little
dents in some parts of the shell, leaving a central image
to stand out.
Soldiers had a lot of spare
time between fighting and to
entertain themselves would
often create their own
souvenirs by recycling objects
that were readily available for
them: wire, used cartridges
and bomb shells
Trench Art
Which bit of the
shell was used for
our example?
Reading the details
37-85 =
37mm howitzer shell.
(18)85 =
the year this shell was introduced
PDPs =
Pinchart Denys, Paris
362 =
Manufacturing lot number
September 1917
Think: why did
poppies become the
symbol of WW1?
Artillery shells were often used to make flower vases: their size and
shape was just right for this
But there are other reasons too
• Holly is symbolic of immortality
• Evergreen
• Lilies (or is it a thistle?)
symbolise purity and innocence
– and also death
• The Cross of Lorraine is a
heraldic (coat of arms) symbol
of the Lorraine region of France.
This is where some of the worst
trench warfare occurred
• It’s a symbol associated with
the Catholic church
A soldier’s possessions
Artefacts (human-made objects) are historical sources –
information about the past doesn’t just come from
written sources!

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