Wartime memories brought to life

JUST about every primary school I come across teaches second world war history to its pupils.They dress up as evacuees, are given facts about rationing, learn about Hitler and the holocaust - all very important stuff.

JUST about every primary school I come across teaches second world war history to its pupils.

They dress up as evacuees, are given facts about rationing, learn about Hitler and the holocaust - all very important stuff.

But it's a rare school, to my knowledge, that does what Colby did recently: invite in those who lived through the experience to share their memories.

Nothing, but nothing, beats hearing about an event from an eye witness, as all reporters know. I sat rapt in the classroom, along with the pupils, not even noticing how uncomfortable my child-sized chair felt as I listened to Doris Cutting and Maurice Hall reliving their very different experiences.


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I could see him as an awe-struck schoolboy looking up at a sky black with deafening Fortresses and Liberators from bases at St Faith's and Oulton.

I could feel for her as she waited for news of her little son, suffering from scarlet fever and in an isolation hospital at Roughton.

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And as they remembered having only a very few toys, rarely travelling outside their local community and teacher hogging the classroom fire, I looked at the small heads bowed busily over notebooks and wondered how many of them owned a mobile phone, had a bedroom TV set, a Wii, laptop computer, had holidayed abroad in the past few years or benefited from the NHS.

We have come an awful long way in those intervening decades and it was very moving to watch the future listening so respectfully to voices from 60 years ago.

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