Whilst planning the project we discovered that one of our colleagues, Ian, and his lifelong friend, Lee, had an amazing WW1 story to tell - so I invited them to meet with the 15 Young People to provide an exciting intergenerational dimension to the project.
Ian and Lee brought along some original family photos which dated back over a century and we incorporated them into a presentation to help the story come alive as it was being told. The Young People heard that Ian’s Grandad and Lee’s Great-grandad had both gone to war as bright-eyed, enthusiastic teenagers but had quickly discovered that the reality was somewhat harsher. Ian’s Grandad, for example, saw his best friend stabbed and killed, the result being that what started as an adventure became a revenge mission.
We heard then how these two men both led completely separate paths as they, like millions of others, fought their own war in different parts of the world. But a few months ago, as Ian and Lee researched the archives to discover more about their predecessors, they discovered a quite remarkable coincidence. Not only did they find that both men fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, it appears that the two of them were in the same regiment and would have known each other - because they are pictured standing side by side in this photo!
Literally, it was a one-in-a-million discovery!
Ian’s Grandad was wounded in the battle as he carried another wounded soldier to safety and returned home to recover before making a living by working on the railways. Sadly, Lee’s Great-grandad was Killed In Action at Vimy Ridge. His son was named Vimy in honour of his father.
The 15 Young People were thoroughly engrossed in the session and asked some great questions as the true story helped to bring the events of 100 years ago alive in a powerful, personal way.