replica uniform ww1 logo

KS1 / KS2 / KS3 / KS4:

Lest We Forget:

The First World War 1914–1918
as seen through the trench letters of
Corporal Frederick Horsnell


A role-play workshop with John Malam in replica
First World War uniform of Corporal Frederick Horsnell


Brothers at War – Charles, Frederick and Arthur Horsnell

charles horsnell fred horsnell arthur horsnell

In 1980 I was working on an archaeological dig in Essex, and on my day off I went to nearby Chelmsford and paid a visit to the town's Old Curiosity Shop – a second-hand shop. A paper bag stuffed with old letters caught my interest and, duly purchased, I left with a collection of about 150 letters written by two brothers, Frederick and Arthur Horsnell, on active service in France and Flanders during the First World War. All the letters are written to their mother and father. There was a third brother, Charles, who was killed in action in November 1914, in the First Battle of Messines. My research into their letters tells their personal stories, set against the drama of the 'war to end all wars'.


EYFS / Reception – Corporal Frederick Horsnell uniform talk:

Overview
A short informal talk about the uniform worn by a First World War soldier.

Activity
Children colour in a line drawing of a soldier in uniform.

Size of group
One class at a time – i.e. approx. 30 children.

Duration
About 30 minutes.
Note: I don't expect children to complete the colouring activity during the session – it can be completed later in class time. Teachers – plan your day with that in mind.

Location
Classroom.


fred letter

KS1 and lower KS2 (Y1 / Y2 / Y3)
Corporal Frederick Horsnell biography recount activity:

Overview
A first person session as I role-play as Corporal Frederick Horsnell in First World War uniform (an exact replica of his actual uniform). I introduce children to Corporal Horsnell, and they discover his life story, 1894–1972, concentrating on key points of his service during the war.

Activity
Children make a chronological recount of Corporal Horsnell's life, producing their own A3 storyboard in their own words and pictures.

Size of group
Ideally one class at a time – i.e. approx. 30 children.
Note: There is some flexibility here – please contact me if you would like this session to include more children.

Duration
About 60 minutes.
Note: The activity can be completed later in class time, if necessary. Teachers – plan your day with that in mind.

Location
Classroom.


fred letter

KS2 (Y3 / Y4 / Y5 / Y6) and KS3 (Y7 / Y8 / Y9)
Corporal Frederick Horsnell letter writing activity:

Overview
A first person session as I role-play as Corporal Frederick Horsnell in an exact replica of his uniform. I read extracts from Fred's letters to his mother and father back home in Hatfield Peverel, Essex.

Children hear of Fred's search for the grave of his brother Charles; his criticism of doctors treating him for an injury; his sarcasm towards the enemy; and his pride in being awarded the Military Medal.

Activity
Children write letters of their own to loved ones, as if they were on the front line 'Somewhere in France'.

Size of group
Ideally one class at a time – i.e. approx. 30 children.
Note: There is some flexibility here – please contact me if you would like this session to include more children.

Duration
Between 60–90 minutes, depending on how you timetable the day.
Note: The activity can be completed later in class time, if necessary. Teachers – plan your day with that in mind.

Location
Classroom.


KS3 (and beyond)
I am happy to discuss suitable First World War sessions with you – could be a mixture of readings from Corporal Horsnell's letters, analysis of their content and style, research activity based on my new book (see below), caption writing for First World War images, etc.

Please contact me to discuss how you'd like me to work with your students.


Available dates: Please check my online bookings diary to see my available dates: Bookings diary.

Costs: All costs for a visit are shown here: Costs.

Timetable: Use the session times above to draft a timetable for the day. Email it to me and I'll confirm if it works (might need a few tweaks before it's good for me).

Mix and match sessions: If you don't want a full First World War day, I'm more than happy to mix and match First World War sessions with my other sessions – just pick what you want from my extensive whole-school range: Sessions for schools. Note: allow 15 minutes between sessions for me to change into / out of the replica uniform. It doesn't use quick-release Velcro!


Classroom resource – book:
The Story of the First World War for Children 1914–1918

first world war spread first world war spread first world war spread first world war book cover

Teach the First World War in your school

My new book The Story of the First World War for Children 1914–1918 is available to order.

This 72-page factual book explains all you need to know about the First World War. An easy-to-read text, an attractive page layout, and many striking photos and illustrations.

It looks at the war as the first truly global conflict, covering not only the Western Front, but the Eastern Front, the doomed Gallipoli campaign, the war in Africa, conflict in the Middle East, war in the air and at sea, and more.

Suitable for ages 7+ (adults will learn from it too)

Published by Carlton Books in association with Imperial War Museums
£14.99 (hardback) / £4.99 (paperback) + P&P

Selected as the Children's Book of the Week (The Times, 26th April 2014)
"A stand out book. John Malam has produced a fantastic book which covers the bases in a brisk but elegant fashion. Vital reading for anyone aged 7–107."

If you would like to order a copy (signed, of course!), please contact me: Click to email John Malam


Classroom resource – website:
Read the letters of Frederick and Arthur Horsnell, discover their stories, and my journey to tell them, at my new website www.brothersatwar.co.uk – 3 brothers, 2 sets of letters, 1 true story.