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Buckinghamshire in the Wars

National Curriculum Links

This package links closely to the National Curriculum for History at both Key Stage 2 and 3, focusing on the twentieth century wars and how they affected Buckinghamshire. Even more specifically, it looks at how the wars have left their mark archaeologically, in terms of the remains of sites on the ground, the history of places and the use of buildings. It links in particularly to:

 

History: Key Stage 2

  • 11b: Britain after 1930. A study of the impact of the Second World War  or social and technological changes that have taken place since 1930, on the lives of men, women and children from different sections of society.

History: Key Stage 3

  • 13: World study after 1900. A study of some of the significant individuals, events and developments from across the twentieth century, including the two World Wars, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and their impact on Britain, Europe and the wider world.

This package also links to GCSE programmes on Modern World History or Humanities, giving a local context to the international events of the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War.

Worksheets

The worksheets mainly take the form of themed information about the archaeology of the First and Second World War and Cold War in Buckinghamshire. There are questions at the end of these worksheets that you may want to discuss with the class after they have read, or you have taught, the information on the worksheet. These notes provide some suggestions for other activities that could be undertaken in conjunction with the worksheets.

 

The worksheets cover the archaeology of the twentieth century wars and are meant to complement the teaching of events and people rather than replace them. Some historical notes are included that supplement the archaeology. More twentieth century archaeology and historic buildings can be found on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website at www.buckscc.gov.uk/archaeology.

 

There are supporting worksheets surrounding the archaeological skills and concepts that are needed to undertake some of the enquiry work. Prerequisites and associated worksheets are listed under each heading below.

 

Some duplication of information occurs across the sheets as different themes are explored. This has been minimised as much as possible in case you wish to use more than just one worksheet.

 

First World War

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: Remembering; Pressed into service; War in the air

This worksheet gives information on the houses that were used for the war effort, the aircraft manufacture and the practice trenches for troops in Buckinghamshire.

There is more information on the First World War on the BBC website: www.bbc.co.uk/schools/worldwarone. There is a Trench warfare game that you can play online. If you would like to find a First World War memorial in your town or village, go to www.ukniwm.org.uk and do an Advanced Search. Pick the First World War in the War drop-down list and type Buckinghamshire into the County field. Alternatively, you can type your village or town name into the City/town/village field.

 

Home Front

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: for women's history - Work (Tudor and Stuart); A woman's work (Georgian and Victorian); War in the air

This worksheet gives information on what life was like at home during the Second World War, covering topics like rationing, digging for victory, the blackout and air-raid shelters. The fact that women had to go to work is also explored.

There are more sources about the Home Front in general on the National Archives website at www.learningcurve.gov.uk/homefront. Activities to accompany this worksheet could include children keeping a diary of what they eat during a week and comparing it to the rations that were allowed during wartime. Remember that only certain foods were rationed, like meat and dairy products, so only compare those foods. They will have to ask their parents to measure their food for them. Instead, another activity could be to measure out the rations in class to work out how much people were allowed a week. This activity could also include comparing the imperial with the metric measurements.

 

Evacuation

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: for children's history - Medieval monasteries; Education (Tudor and Stuart); Education (Georgian and Victorian)

This worksheet gives information on evacuation of children and adults, schools, businesses and hospitals to Buckinghamshire. The experiences of those evacuated to Buckinghamshire are also explored.

 

There are more sources about evacuation in general, as opposed to just in Buckinghamshire, on the National Archives Learning Curve website www.learningcurve.gov.uk/homefront. You could ask your pupils what they would like to take with them if they had to evacuate their area, like children in London had to. Alternatively, your pupils could write a story about a child who had to evacuate London and came to Buckinghamshire at the start of the Second World War, incorporating some facts and ideas they have learned doing the worksheet. Instead of writing a story, your pupils could write a letter as if from an evacuated child to his or her mother still in London. Names and stories of people evacuated to Buckinghamshire can be found on the BBC People’s War website: www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2. School logbooks, kept at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (www.buckscc.gov.uk/archive), often have information about evacuees to their school.

 

Pressed into service

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: Evacuation

This worksheet gives information on what some of Buckinghamshire's large houses were used for during the Second World War.

 

The worksheet asks your pupils to imagine they are a country house owner writing a letter to a friend to explain that they want to do their bit for the war but are afraid that their house will be damaged. You could look on the Buckinghamshire Photographs website, www.buckscc.gov.uk/photo_database, at the country house exteriors and interiors to help the children imagine what the furnishings and decoration was like and what items the owner might want to protect. 

 

Allies and enemies

Prerequisites: How to read maps; Interpreting aerial photographs

Other relevant worksheets: for diversity - Buckinghamshire's unique mixture

This worksheet outlines the presence of various foreign nationals in Buckinghamshire. The worksheet explores citizenship issues as well, exploring what local people thought of the influx of outsiders and what the visitors thought of Buckinghamshire. This promotes an understanding of differing viewpoints and interpretations of history.

 

Pupils are asked to draw three pictures of Hartwell Dog Track before, during and after the prisoner-of-war camp, using maps as inspiration for this artwork. Please contact the County Archaeological Service for copies of the maps and aerial photographs. They are also asked to write a speech to give to parishioners in Newport Pagnell explaining why prisoners-of-war should be given the same rationing as British soldiers. They may need help working out the arguments for this, such as British fairness, the fact that the prisoners-of-war were soldiers as well, heeding the Geneva Convention and so on.

 

A website dedicated to the part troops from what was the empire, the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean, played in the Second World War can be found at We Also Served.

 

War in the air

Prerequisites: Interpreting aerial photographs

Other relevant worksheets: First World War; Defence of Buckinghamshire; Secret War

This worksheet gives information about some of the airfields, anti-aircraft batteries and plane crashes in Buckinghamshire during the Second World War and the role of Bomber High Command.

 

Pupils are asked to work out where most of the airfields in Buckinghamshire were during the Second World War. They can do this by doing a simple search for airfields or military airfields on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website and choosing to display their results on a map, which they can print out. There is more information about anti-aircraft batteries on the Defence of Buckinghamshire worksheet.

 

Defence of Buckinghamshire

Prerequisites: Interpreting aerial photographs

Other relevant worksheets: War in the air; Home Front; Fortifications

This worksheet gives information about the role of the Home Guard and ARP wardens in Buckinghamshire and some of the installations they were responsible for, such as anti-aircraft batteries.

Pupils are asked to think of other places in Buckinghamshire that might need protection by the Home Guard, anti-aircraft batteries etc… Hopefully these should be clear from other worksheets; airfields, country houses used as bases, Bomber High Command, industries and so on. Perhaps you could do a drama workshop with your pupils, thinking about what the Home Guard and various troops of soldiers and airmen would have done if there had been an invasion.

 

Training troops

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: War in the air; Defence of Buckinghamshire; First World War

This worksheet gives information on the training received by airmen at Westcott airfield and Home Guard training.

 

Pupils are asked to find the practice trenches in Buckinghamshire on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website. There is more about First World War practice trenches in the First World War worksheet. Compare the descriptions of the practice trenches. Do they seem to be different shapes? This shows that war was different between the two World Wars. Trench warfare was no longer as important during the Second World War. There is a Trench warfare game that you can play online on the BBC website: www.bbc.co.uk/schools/worldwarone. Churchill was afraid that the Second World War would end with trench warfare but because of new technology such as tanks, planes and rockets, this never happened.

 

Secret war

Prerequisites: How to read maps; Interpreting aerial photographs; How to plot from aerial photographs onto maps

Other relevant worksheets: War in the air

This worksheet gives information on some of the secret activities that were going on in Buckinghamshire during the Second World War, such as communications, weapons development and aerial reconnaissance.

There are several aerial photographs and maps available from the County Archaeological Service to use with this worksheet, plotting Second World War sites in Buckinghamshire onto maps. The worksheet also gives your pupils some codes to crack. The answers are:

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Propaganda

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: Allies and enemies

This worksheet looks at the ways in which Buckinghamshire contributed to the propaganda effort, including leafleting missions leaving from our airfields, war films being made in our film studios and parades by foreign governments on our streets.

 

You could get hold of copies of the war films made in Buckinghamshire, perhaps from your local library, to show your pupils. One or two excerpts of the Army Film and Photographic Unit films can be seen on the National Archives website at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/battles/dday/. They can see how the filmmakers made people think certain things about the war. The films play in Media Player. There are examples of the kind of propaganda leaflets the flights from Buckinghamshire were dropping on the National Archives website: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/theartofwar.

The Imperial War Museum has an online educational resource on Media and War at: www.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/29/mediawar.

 

Victory

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: Allies and enemies; Remembering

This worksheet gives a few details of celebrations at the end of the war as well as what happened to evacuees and prisoners-of-war.

 

Perhaps your class could hold and ‘end of the war topic’ celebration, using pictures and stories of the end of the war as inspiration for the food you eat and games you play. The BBC website has people’s memories of the end of the war at www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/C54817.

 

Remembering

Prerequisites:

Other relevant worksheets: Allies and enemies

This worksheet looks at the war memorials and graves in Buckinghamshire of people who died in the Second World War.

 

Eventually Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past will have war memorials in the database. In the meantime you can search in two places. The Imperial War Museum has an online database of war memorials at www.ukniwm.org.uk. You can search this by going to the advanced search page and typing Buckinghamshire into the County field. If you want to narrow the search down to your village or town, type its name into the city/town/village field. You can also narrow the search down to the First or Second World War by choosing them in the War field. To choose to see more details about a war memorial, click on the name. Another website has war graves in Britain: www.britishwargraves.org.uk. Again go to the advanced search and enter England in the country and Buckinghamshire into the locality field. There are thousands so you may want to narrow the search by choosing a pupil’s surname or choosing the section of the military you want to focus on. If you want to do the latter, choose British Forces in the Nationality field and army, navy, RAF or another option from the service field. You can also look for soldiers from other countries (though you may have to widen your search to all of England). Click on the name if you want more information about the person buried there. You have to send an email to the website writers to request a photograph.

 

Cold War

Prerequisites: n/a

Other relevant worksheets: War in the air; Secret War

This worksheet should be done in conjunction with teaching about the major events and characters of the Cold War. It gives information about the role Buckinghamshire played during the Cold War, including Royal Observer Corps stations, Strike Command at Naphill and a secret network of radio transmitters for spies to use!

 

An extension activity could be to ask your children to think about what life was like in the 1980s or 1990s and whether people realised that there were secret observation posts and radio transmitters around them to protect them from nuclear war. Perhaps they could write a story or develop a piece of drama based on the idea that observers report a possible attack that is later a false alarm, and the events that would follow in the defence of the country, while the normal person on the street doesn’t know anything. 

Further activities

Interactive game

There is an interactive map activity for your pupils to look at. One small area of Buckinghamshire right down in the south of the county was home to a myriad different people and functions in the Second World War. Iver and Wexham parishes held an airfield and aircraft factory, ammunition depot, two Home Guard units, a propaganda film studio and much more. A great case study to use. This also has a fun element, with an aircraft identification chart, which is useful when you see planes flying overhead! There are also many pictures from and about the Second World War of the local area and more widely in Buckinghamshire and a ration book with a recipe for making corned beef and cabbage. Try to make sure that the sound is on, as there is Pathe style music at the start of the game and then it cuts to an air-raid siren. Be sure to click on the cigarette packet at the end to exit the game; you will be able to confirm which airplanes you saw flying over! This game can be found at www.buckscc.gov.uk/_ubl/main.htm.

 

Old photographs

An activity you could do to accompany all worksheets is to look at Buckinghamshire Photographs website at www.buckscc.gov.uk/photo_database. Put the name of the place you want to look for in the Place field and press the Locate button to try to find pictures of the place being used during the war or just a general picture to get some idea of what it was like. There are some pictures of Halton House and camp, Chequers, Langley Hall RAF station, Wilton Park and Oving House. You could also do a search under the Date field. You have to enter a time range that covers a decade e.g. 1940=1949. The symbol between the dates has to be the ‘equals’ sign for the search to work.

 

Children in the war

Your pupils could be given the job of bringing together the experiences of children during the Second World War in Buckinghamshire from across all the worksheets. You will find that many of the experiences were of evacuation, but older children remember working for the ARP and the prisoners-of-war at Hartwell Dog Track and so on. If they are very keen eyed they may also spot that sweets were rationed as well, 3oz per week (maybe they could keep a log of all the sweets they eat in a week, keep the wrappers and add up the weights at the end). You can assure them, though, that parents usually gave their sweet rations to their children. It would have been great if you were an only child! There are some more accounts of children in Buckinghamshire in the war on the BBC website www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2

 

Talking to eye-witnesses

Get your pupils to ask their grandparents or other elderly people in their neighbourhood whether they remember some of the people, places and events they have learnt about in the worksheets. You could ask at a local nursing home, residential home or British Legion branch whether anyone is willing to talk to the children and answer their questions. The information about Hughenden Manor being used to plan raids on Hitler’s bunker came from interviewing people who worked there, so what secrets could your pupils unearth? Let us know any new information!

 

Memories

If you can’t find anyone who is able to talk to the children, you can find lots of memories preserved on the BBC website at www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2. Type Buckinghamshire into the search field and there are hundreds of stories of evacuees to Buckinghamshire, members of Buckinghamshire Battalions and the rural life during the Second World War. Maybe you can see if there are any specific memories of your village or town. Many of the reminiscences in the worksheets were found on this website.

 

Preserving modern buildings

Another activity, perhaps to finish off the topic, could be to discuss with the children the fate of the many buildings, airfields, and other sites associated with the First and Second World War. Many of the sites that were purpose-built for use in the war are not in very good condition as there is now no-one to look after them. Only the houses that were requisitioned for use from other people are still looked after. Do the children think that buildings associated with airfields, prisoner-of-war camps and army camps should be preserved? How do they think this could be done? What about war memorials? Are twentieth-century buildings as important as older buildings? You can look at these websites to find organisations that are trying or tried to save such sites: 

Display

The final product could be a display showing how Buckinghamshire contributed to the Second World War and how it was affected by it. Children could work alone or in pairs on posters using images they have come across in the worksheets, on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website or elsewhere, showing what they think are the most important effects of the Second World War on Buckinghamshire. They should accompany each picture with a written explanation of what it is and why it is important.

 

Look out for more World War II resources from the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies at www.buckscc.gov.uk/archives. There are also good sources that can be used for the Second World War in Britain and the Commonwealth at www.learningcurve.gov.uk/homefront.  

Resources

Many of the reminiscences come from the BBC's WW2 People's War website. WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.

 

A web-site set up by parents of children going to Emerson Valley Combined School in Milton Keynes explores some aspects of the secret war around Milton Keynes, such as Wing and Little Horwood airfields: http://clutch.open.ac.uk/schools/emerson00/home.html.  

 

The Imperial War Museum's project, Their Past Your Future, has an online exhibition, digital film clips, personal stories, and war diaries.

 

An online film archive can be found on the National Archives Learning Curve website. They are on various aspects of twentieth century history, with many about the Home Front during the Second World War. The films work with Quicktime or Media Player.

 

You can hire boxes of real and replica artefacts from the Buckinghamshire School's Library Service.

Visits

Most military sites from the two World Wars are either still in use by the military and therefore off-limits or have been demolished. There are a few places that you can visit, however.

 

Aston Abbotts

Here you can see The Abbey where the Czech president lived while in exile in Britain, the pub his soldiers frequented and the bus stop he left as a gift to the people of Aston Abbotts. 

 

Bletchley Park

This is officially in Milton Keynes now, just outside Buckinghamshire, but as the centre of the Secret War is a very interesting place to visit. Visit www.bletchleypark.org.uk for details of events, opening times and cost.

 

National Trust

The National Trust runs Claydon House and Waddesdon Manor, both used as schools during the Second World War. See www.nationaltrust.org.uk for details of opening times and costs. Hughenden Manor was used as a map-making base during the Second World War and is also run by the National Trust. The Buckingham Home Guard did their battle training in Stowe Landscaped gardens, which is also run by the National Trust.

 

Country Parks

Black Park and Langley Park are owned by Buckinghamshire County Council and can be visited at any time. Black Park is where an ordnance depot was, and you can still see the roads of the camp and the white painted stripes on the trees next to the lake. You can see the base of the monument the Polish Army practised mortar firing against in Langley Park. Langley House is not open to visitors but is visible from public footpaths. See www.buckscc.gov.uk/countryside for more details.

 

Winslow

Winslow is the site of the worst plane crash in Buckinghamshire during the Second World War. The plane crashed into 75 and 77 High Street and the Chandos Arms. A memorial plaque to those who died can be seen at St Lawrence’s church.

 

Bomber High Command

Although Bomber High Command is still in use (now known as Strike Command) there are the platforms of two buildings in Park Wood nearby that were built during the war for use as a central mess for the staff. The buildings are at Grid Reference SP833983. Use OS Explorer map 172. Park Wood is National Trust land and is open access.

 

Memorials

If you find a war memorial in your village on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website or on www.ukniwm.org.uk, you may want to visit it to record the names of those who died in the First or Second World War. 

Further Reading

Beckett, I 1985. Call to Arms: Buckinghamshire’s Citizen Soldiers. Barracuda Books Ltd: Buckingham.

Brooks, R.J 2000. Thames Valley Airfields in the Second World War: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Middlesex. Countryside Books: Newbury.

Buckinghamshire Record Office (BRO) 1995. Wartime Buckinghamshire 1939-1945. Buckinghamshire Record Office: Aylesbury.

Cocroft, W.D & Thomas, R.J.C 2003. Cold War: Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989. Swindon: English Heritage.

Cole, R 2001. High Wycombe. Ottakar’s: Stroud.

Dabrowski, P 1999. Around Wendover and Halton. Tempus: Stroud.

Jenkins, J.G 1967. Chequers: A history of the Prime Minister’s Buckinghamshire Home. Pergamon Press: London.

Major, N 2001. Chequers: The Prime Minister’s Country House and its History. Little, Brown & Company: London.

Rees, N 2005. The Czech Connection: The Czechoslovak Government in Exile in London and Buckinghamshire. Chesham: Neil Rees.

Warth, M 2001. Wings over Wing: The story of a World War II Bomber Training Unit. The Book Castle: Dunstable.

 

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