CALLS have been made to teach the First World War ‘warts and all’ during Accrington Pals’ commemorations.
Critics in East Lancashire hit out after Education Secretary Michael Gove described academics’ criticism of leadership during the conflict as ‘unpatriotic’.
The minister launched an attack over the way the war is taught as a ‘misbegotten shambles’. He also criticised television programmes such as Blackadder for their portrayal of officers.
However, Accrington Pals historian Walter Holmes said it was important to include as much as possible in the curriculum, such as the Accrington Pals’ ‘slaughter’ at the Somme.
He said: “One reason behind the slaughter was the mistaken belief the German front lines were decimated. The Pals were ordered not to charge, but walk across. It resulted in so many deaths and the men who survived spent days burying the dead and bringing in the wounded. Their bravery was astonishing.”
This July marks 100 years since the start of the Great War and Paul Trickett, head of Rhyddings High School in Oswaldtwistle, said pupils were taught about the soldiers’ bravery through facts. He said: “It’s important children understand that a lot of brave people made a great sacrifice.
“However, the important thing is the facts. You have to allow children to discover the details and make their own decisions about right and wrong.”
History teacher at Darwen Aldridge Academy, Adam Turner said: “It doesn’t dishonour the war dead to use Blackadder as a version of events and as a starting point to study the war.
“Michael Gove’s comments are useful as part of a discussion about the war and its remembrance but are no more correct than anyone else’s. History can’t be owned by the Secretary of State for Education.”
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said he felt this year’s commemorations in Accrington were an opportunity to learn from the past.
He said: “Subjects like this need to be taught, warts and all.”