On Tuesday, we launched the Year 7 theme of Conflict by taking the children to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  The children began by exploring the decks of HMS Victory, undoubtedly the Navy’s most famous warship having served as Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.  We started the tour in the open air on the Quarter Deck before descending through the Gun Decks, where the sailors would have experienced the clamour and commotion of battle, to the bowels of the ship where Nelson died, having been shot by a French sniper.  As we made our way further down through the decks, the ceilings became lower and lower so that, prior to emerging once more into the sunlight, all of the children were having to duck to prevent themselves hitting their heads.

After enjoying a hearty lunch sitting in the sunshine, we made our way to our second ship of the day, HMS M33.  This small ship, armed only with a pair of 6-inch guns compared to the 104 guns of HMS Victory, saw action during the Dardenelles Campaign of 1915-1916.  We began our tour of HMS M33 by watching a short video which introduced the children to the Gallipoli campaign, before then searching the ship for Miss Muggins, the ship’s cat!

As the children discovered on Tuesday, these two ships illustrate starkly the impact that technological developments can have on warfare and the experience of the sailors on board.  In little more than one hundred years, Britain went from fighting naval battles with wooden ships powered by the wind to fighting them with steel ships no longer reliant on the weather to get them across the world’s oceans.

Once the children had been crammed with historical knowledge, they had the chance to visit Action Stations, where they spent a fun-filled hour racing around an obstacle course, scaling a climbing wall and dressing up in military fatigues.  (You may have seen pictures of myself or Mr Newman on the obstacle course and climbing wall – obviously it was necessary to ensure that the facilities were completely safe before allowing the children to have a go.)