WW2 Crime & Home Front

This workshop examines wartime crime and encompasses many home front issues such as the black out, rationing, salvaging, gas masks, arp etc.  As well as many wartime crimes such as profiteering,  fifth columnists, hoarding, wasting resources, looting and entering a restricted area.

Age Group – Year 9s but would work for students of a similar age such as Year 8s or 10s.  We’ve even run it for Year 7s before.

Display time – This workshop is approximately one hour long.  Can be adapted slightly to suit your timetable.

Max number students per workshop – one class (about 30)

Number of workshops per day –Four max, of the one hour version so about 120 students in a day.

Minimum number of teachers – one

Display area – Large classroom, drama room, hall or similar space.  If Morrison shelter is booked the space will need to be on the ground floor with easy access (the shelter is very heavy!)

Students are given various nominal roles such as housewife, warden, policeman, home guard etc and an identity card and prop such as a helmet or pinny to match.  Students are split into various groups and need to gain victory points in their groups throughout the workshop in order to achieve an overall victory for the allies.  They will sit through various trials based on real wartime cases which were tried and convicted.

Crime is not something that most people associate with wartime, we tend to think more about Dunkirk and the blitz spirit.  However crime was more prevalent during the war than before, partly as so many things were made a crime during the war, which had not been beforehand.  From the more obvious crimes such as selling food off ration to simpler ones such as throwing away a bus ticket (wasting paper) the punishments could be quite severe. In the case of throwing a bus ticket away, as much as a £100 fine or 3 months in prison (at a time when £10 was a good weekly wage for a man and many women only received £2 or £3 a week).  Many of the crimes & their punishments are suprising or even shocking.

Fred is the local magistrate and will put students on trial for their various war time crimes.  Many of the crimes relate to important wartime home front issues such as the blackout, rationing of every kind, salvage, gas masks, conscientious objectors, 5th columnists, ARP and is a great platform to introduce these topics.  We also briefly look at some of the different war time roles such as housewife, fire guard,  warden and home guard.

Students will decide whether the cases brought before them are actually a crime or whether they are a red herring. They gain points for guessing correctly which will go to the allies and they lose points for guessing incorrectly which go to the axis powers. As with our Year 7 workshop this helps to focus their attention on the subject.

Students are then invited to turn detective and work in groups to investigate who the local spiv might be so that he can be brought to trial.  Points are again awarded for guessing correctly.  Hopefully by the end of this the students have gained enough victory points to win the war and lead their country to victory!  The spiv will be different everytime in case the students chat to each other inbetween lessons!

We also bring along many original WW2 artrefacts such as gas masks (certified clean & safe), incendiary bombs, ration books and examples of rations.  This is a fun, involving and most importantly, educational workshop.

Morrison shelter (table shelter)
We own a half size original morrison shelter, the sort that was used in the home and kept in the living room.  We can bring the morrison shelter to your school and set it up for students to see and try out.  The shelter is placed on wooden blocks to protect your floor.  Due to its heavy weight it must be set up in a ground floor room.    The shelter was used by a pregnant woman during the war, whilst the rest of her family slept in an Anderson shelter outside.  They painted it green to match their sofa.  We have also met the family of the man who designed the Morrison shelter who believe ours to be an original and very early model.  The morrison shelter is available to hire whilst we are running our WW2 workshop for a cost of £100.  There is no further charge for a second consecutive day but it will need to be left up overnight.

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