Armistice 100: Dagenham schools join forces for Remembrance Day showcase
- Credit: Archant
Ten of the borough’s schools joined together for a stage show and exhibition in Dagenham to mark Remembrance Day and a century since the Armistice.
Scores of pupils converged in Sydney Russell School for the event on Friday afternoon, attended by several veterans from Becontree Royal British Legion.
The school transformed its main entrance hall into an extensive array of stalls, posters and exhibits exploring the First World War for the show.
Handmade poppies poured from the globe sculpture dominating the hall onto the floor, circled by silhouettes of ‘Tommies’, the nickname given to British Army soldiers during the conflict. Some were portraits of troops, another, by an Eastbury Community School pupil, a patchwork of poppy-shaped flags of the modern-day Commonwealth countries who had fought for the Allied war effort.
Artefacts from Valence House’s archives were on display and posters lined the walls with information on topics including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Victoria Cross recipient John Sayer.
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Similar displays included pieces on women in wartime, conscientious objectors and black soldier’s experiences during the four-year conflict. Children could even don a Union Jack bowler hat and pose for photos before a backdrop of the Houses of Parliament.
History teacher and organiser Momina Martin said the borough’s pupils reacted with enthusiasm to the project, which developed out of a collaboration with heritage body Historic England.
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“It’s been terrific,” she said.
“A lot of schools were very eager to contribute.”
About 50 Sydney Russell students would sing songs, recite poems and act on stage later that evening in a cast including another 93 young performers, she added.
Among them were Khadija Bahar and Eniola Ibrahim, two Year 6 pupils from a cohort reciting war poem In Flanders Fields.
“We were learning lines at lunchtimes,” said Khadija, 11.
Classmate Eniola added: “We need to remember the people who died for us and [those] who sacrificed their lives.”
Stood in uniform behind an RAF air cadet information stall, paces away from veterans who had experienced the horror of war first-hand, Cadet Corporal Charlie Peters recalled his squadron’s recent trip to the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres, Belgium.
“It was really moving,” said the 15-year-old.