Become a history detective and uncover the stories of our local war heroes
- Category: Libraries
- Published: 27 July 2018
To mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, LiveWire and Culture Warrington would like to encourage local schools and community groups to research into the lives of local war heroes. The war hero may have even attended your local school!
Below is a remarkable story of a war hero who helped pupils at Christ Church School in Padgate to appreciate the sacrifice many servicemen and women made for the next generation. The war hero that they studied, John Ratcliffe, attended Christ Church School between 1895 and 1901.
Become a history detective
We would like to encourage schools, and community groups, to become history detectives and to research into a local war hero, whilst also learning the skills of a historian too.
Any school or local community groups wishing to take part can email Philip Jeffs at Warrington Library, who will help to get you started and will give you tips on how to progress with your research.
The story of pupils who uncovered the story of First World War hero
To mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, a history club at Christ Church School in Padgate decided to research the life of a former pupil who lost his life while serving for his country.
The group, comprising of year five pupils, investigated the life of John Ratcliffe who attended the school between 1895 and 1901.
His name is engraved on a plaque at the school and the war memorial at Bennett’s Rec in Padgate along with 19 other former pupils who lost their lives during both World Wars.
Head teacher Ian Williams said: “Our school is here to serve our children. One of them, John, later gave his life for his country.
“He may no longer be with us, but he will always remain part of our school family. History club has given his story a chance to live again.”
Using material held at Warrington Library, a detailed picture of John’s life was pieced together.
The children looked at census forms, maps, birth certificates, newspaper cuttings, company directories, regimental history publications and war diaries.
While at the library, the obituary from the Warrington Guardian was found which included a quote from the sister in charge at the casualty clearance station in France where John died – she was able to describe his final moments.
John had originally fought with the South Lancs Regiment, whose barracks in Warrington were within walking distance of his house.
He had been gassed at Ypres in 1917 and when he recovered he joined up with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
John, who previously worked at Corn Merchant William Barlow at Winwick Road, grew up on Fearnhead. He married during the war in 1915 and moved to Ridgeway Street.
Teachers Lynsey McHugh and Phillipa Shaw ran the history club with volunteer from LiveWire, Chris Bent, whose father also served his country.
Phillip Jeffs, heritage manager at Warrington Library, added: “In the archives we had two great hopes for this project. The first was to help the children understand that every name in those long lists on a war memorial is a real person just like them.
“The second was to give the children the thrill of finding facts for themselves instead of just reading them from a history book. We would love to help other schools give their students a new perspective on history and a closer connection to the people who have shaped their world.”
Credit - the story above was written by Lauren Hirst from the Warrington Guardian.
Find out about a war hero in your school or village
LiveWire and Culture Warrington would like to encourage schools, and community groups, to become history detectives and research into a local war hero, whilst also learning the skills of a historian too.
Any schools or local community groups wishing to take part can email Philip Jeffs who will help to get you started and will give you tips on how to progress with your research.
Image (above) - Pupils Corey Beechall, 11, and Archie Murray, nine, from Christ Church School in Padgate, working on their history project.