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Students were given the chance to study the city's World War 1 history during a visit to Ford Park Cemetery.

The Year 8 History students took part in the ongoing commemorations of the First World War and in particular the Battle of the Somme.

The students, accompanied by three members of staff visited Ford Park Cemetery where they were met by two of the staff for a guided tour of the cemetery.

"The visit was designed to offer students the opportunity to discover some of the hidden individual stories of the men and women who served in the Great War and to give them the opportunity to see the role that Plymouth people played in the conflict, " explained teaching assistant  Mr Sheaff, who arranged the trip on 3 November 2016.

"During the tour we visited a number of graves and learned about the stories of the people buried at the cemetery.

One of the graves the tour visited was of Sister Hilda Lilian Jones. Her first appointment with Queen Alexandra’s at the beginning of WW1 was as a Staff Nurse.

Information from her medal card shows that she served in Malta for part of the war. She ended the war as Sister in Charge at Durnford Military Hospital, which is now the Royal Marine Barracks in Stonehouse.

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"So she spent the whole of the war nursing the sick and wounded only to die two weeks before the end of the war of Spanish Flu.

"A total of 432 people died in Plymouth in October and November 1918. Another of the people we heard about was Arthur John Arberry who joined the Devonshire Regiment 2nd Battalion.

"During the battle of the Somme the 2nd Devon’s suffered 232 killed and 199 wounded. Arthur was one of those wounded but after being transported back the Britain died of his wounds and was buried in the cemetery."

At the end of the tour the students had the opportunity to access the records kept in the visitors' centre and conducted research on the volunteers from different areas of Plymouth they also had a chance to ask questions of the staff.

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"Since the trip the students have been sharing their learning by leading year assemblies to share what they had discovered with the rest of the school," said Mr Sheaff.

Ford Park Cemetery is the oldest working cemetery in Plymouth, having held its first burial in December 1848 and since April 2000 has been owned and managed by a charitable trust.

The landscape is managed so that there is an abundance of wildlife within the 34-acre grounds and there are memorials to notable figures, but also the graves of ordinary people who led extraordinary lives.

The Trust’s volunteers hold exhibitions and lead walks on both the Cemetery’s history and its landscape and wildlife.

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There is a restored Victorian Gothic Revival Chapel which holds a moving memorial to the civilians who perished in the Plymouth Blitz and within the grounds there are many fine examples of Victorian funerary symbolism on memorials and headstones.

"Ford Park Cemetery is proof that even in the midst of a busy city it is possible to find a place of peace and tranquillity," said John Boon, who is a trustee of the cemetery.

"And if Victorian cemeteries are to remain relevant today, they must educate and inspire the living, as well as honour the dead," he said.

"Guided by this principle, the experienced volunteer researchers of the Trust work with schools and other educational establishments to bring young people to the Cemetery to learn from our heritage of social and military history."

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Stoke Damerel News Archive 2016-17

 

 

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