Watch: Leeds students recreate life in the trenches

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The sights and sounds experienced by frontline soldiers in the First World War were recreated by school pupils to mark the centenery of the start of the conflict.

Students and subjects throughout Cockburn School in Beeston took part in a week of activities to commemorate the solemn event, culminating in a mock battle and a series of dramatic performances.

World War One battle re-enactment. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

World War One battle re-enactment. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

And visitors, staff and pupils all had the chance to take a soldier’s journey from the moment of being signed up to life, and death, on the front line thanks to a ‘trench experience’ which was paid for with Heritage Lottery Funding and constructed by the school’s arts and technology technicians.

Pupils at the specialist performing arts school took key roles in breathing life into the story – which started with a soldier getting on the train to go to war and ended with a his mother receiving a letter telling her of his death.

Angus Smith, assistant head teacher, said: “The students had mixed emotions going through the trench. The experience gave a real sense of both the excitement which must have been felt and the real tragedy of war.”

He said sounds like explosions and smoke-like effects all helped make the experience as real as possible.

World War One battle re-enactment at Cockburn High School.'18th July 2014. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

World War One battle re-enactment at Cockburn High School.'18th July 2014. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Even subjects like maths got in on the act, with pupils learning about rationing and the agricultural demands of wartime Britian.

The school’s efforts were witnessed by relatives of First World War veteran and Leeds Victoria Cross holder Laurence Calvert, who had been a pupil at Cockburn before going to war.

They were joined on Friday by the Mayor of Leeds Councillor David Congreve, where they took part in the experiences and watched the re-enactments.

Mr Smith said: “This has been a good opportunity for pupils to experience the school’s motto which is ‘Learning for Life’.

World War One battle re-enactment

World War One battle re-enactment

“Everyone at Cockburn School took great pride in coming together to say we remember’.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post is supporting the Lights Out campaign – which will see people illuminate only a single light between 10pm and 11pm on August 4, a century to the day Britain declared war on Germany.

Commemorative candles can be purchased for £4 from Marks & Spencer stores or from the company’s website, with profits going to The Royal British Legion.

Email to tell us how you will be taking part.

Or tweet us @LeedsNews using the hashtag #LightsOut

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