06 August 2021

North-east pupils past and present share their stories

Learning about restrictions during the Second World War inspired pupils at an Aberdeenshire school to record their own experiences during the anniversary of the first lockdown.

Pupils at Premnay School reflected personally on the positives about lockdown and how it affected them and the impact of Covid-19 on their lives over the past year. They also learnt about Anne Frank and the diary she kept whilst she and her family hid during the Second World War to avoid being sent to a concentration camp. Her diary inspired the pupils to write their own journals of life during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In his diary, one pupil reflected: “I really missed playing football. I played football yesterday with Harry, Fraser, Lewis and Ollie but I’m happy to be back in school because I can see everyone again. I haven’t been to the shop, but school is better than sitting in my room doing work. It’s like we have been in our houses for a dozen years.”

Another pupil said: “I am so glad we have gone back to school. Even though I liked doing my schoolwork at home it is so much better. Another terrible thing was I couldn’t see all my friends and I missed them loads. I was really excited and happy when I got to see them, and I felt like I hadn’t been apart.”

Essays that pupils at schools in Aberdeen wrote during the Second World War as part of an exam are available at Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives. They give a fascinating comparison between how children and young people felt then compared with children currently.

Common themes include coping with restrictions on movement, a lack of availability of certain foods in shops, and in some cases a love of football.

One pupil wrote: “The worst thing of all which I miss is my brother, who is a sailor in the Merchant Navy. He is missing, his boat is believed to be sunk. I used to play all sorts of games with him – counting, racing on cycles, which I liked very much, another thing I used to play with my brother was football, which my brother was very good at. He used to play for an Aberdeen team, he was outside-left.”

Another wrote: “But one thing I miss most is my father who is in the Royal Air Force. I miss him because he took me down to help him with his work. At night we would have gone to the pictures. I can’t even get to the carnivals because they are all closed until after the war. But we will stick it out.”

The Evening Express and Press and Journal newspapers are joining forces with Aberdeenshire schools to work collaboratively on an exciting time capsule project. The initiative sees mementos and memories and experiences donated to a time capsule buried in Aberdeenshire, giving future generations an invaluable insight into life for children and young people during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “The letters written by pupils during the Second World War give a fascinating insight into how children and young people coped during that momentous time. I imagine that thanks to this time capsule generations in the future will read the many poems, stories, songs that present children and young people have written telling of how they came through similarly important times during the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce said: “Whether in the past or present day, children and young people in the north-east have given touching accounts of how they have coped during difficult times. Their resilience is to be commended.”

For more information about the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives please visit: Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives | Aberdeen City Council.