Facebook turns back the clock

A not-for-profit project is using social media to help young people learn about the realities of World War One

“Today in 1915, Walter and his friends and family are certain that this year will bring victory for the Allied Forces. He just hopes it doesn’t happen before he gets a chance to put his long months of training into action … Reports are coming in from his sister Rose, who is nursing aboard a French ambulance train, about the constant rain which is making trench life nearly impossible, about soldiers who have gone for 11 weeks without a wash and about a strange condition affecting the men’s feet … Meanwhile, back home, Britain has suffered its first Zeppelin attack, the government is threatening conscription, the original ‘Lassie’ the dog has saved a sailor’s life and Ma has found an advert for ‘meat lozenges’ to send out to hungry servicemen.”

This is not a book report of a school history book, but from a Facebook page. The not-for-profit project tells the story of Walter Carter, from Battersea, who joins the Territorial Force in 1912 and goes to war in March 1915. The story covers the entire war and provides not only his experiences but, importantly, those of his family and girlfriend back in England. Whilst it is fictitious, it is entirely based on fact and is continuously checked by military historians both for accuracy and authenticity.

The project’s aim is to get young people more engaged with WW1 in a way that comes naturally to them – through social media. It also aims provide teachers with a welcome starting point to get pupils thinking about and seeing WW1 from a number of different perspectives. The majority of the posts include links for further reading and research.

As well as Walter’s Facebook page there is also one for his girlfriend Lily, his sister Rose and other friends and family – their posts and comments paint a broad picture of life at home and at war referencing issues that are still important today such as the role of the Reserves, the effect of the war on families, the changing role of women and the treatment of the physically and mentally injured.

Walter has nearly completed his training and will soon be heading out to join the fighting. To follow the story, go to:

www.facebook.com/WW1SoldiersTale

www.twitter.com/WW1SoldiersTale

www.WW1SoldiersTale.co.uk/blog

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