BATTLE lines were drawn in the earth at Goddard Park Primary School as pupils learned about the realities of trench warfare during a two-week project to commemorate World War One.

Children as young as five pitched in to help dig a large WWI-style trench in the school grounds as part of the Park North school’s programme of events to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the conflict, which ravaged much of Western Europe between 1914 and 1918.

Across the school 450 students learned about the roles of soldiers and nurses, their clothes and equipment and life on the Home Front, thanks to a little help from Mark Sutton and Graham Carter of the Swindon in the Great War group.

Jo Truscott, history coordinator at the school, said: “The children have absolutely loved getting muddy and digging the trench. It’s a tricky subject to talk about but we did not mention the gory details.”

The trench, which measured 4m long by 1m wide and half a metre deep, was complete with 50 sandbags provided by Swindon Council while local firm Norbert Dentressangle supplied the pallets used to make the trench wall.

Parents, teachers and volunteers helped the 13 youngsters from Year 1 build the structure, which will be displayed to more parents on Friday at a special open event.

Jo added: “We decided to do a whole school project to commemorate the centenary and the first week before half-term we held lots of group activities.

“In reception, the children have enjoyed creating class poppy fields using rolls of paper and paint to help remember the people that died. We have made some helmets ready for next week where we have our ‘trench’ in our outside area for the children to role play the soldiers in the trenches.

“The children in Year 1 have been looking at life at home in Swindon during World War One. They have tried on clothes from that era, experienced playing games the children would have played, experienced eating some of the foods available and compared them with food we eat today.

“Older children have learned the poem In Flanders Fields and also written letters home as if they were soldiers in the trenches.

“The parents were really impressed with the trench and we can’t wait to show it off on Friday.”

The Swindon in the Great War group will also be overseeing the town’s commemoration of the First World War centenary.

For more information visit or email info@swindongreatwar.

  • Anyone with a story about relatives or artefacts from the war can contact us on 01793 501806.