School Workshops

In collaboration with East Manchester Academy

In February 2021, Frances Houghton and Laure Humbert organised three online workshops for Year 8 students from East Manchester Academy to learn about nursing in a global context during the Second World War.  Students were introduced to the work of the International Hadfield Spears Ambulance Unit, and learned about the work of medical women, including nurses and ambulance drivers in the Middle East and Africa. They also learned about the work of orderlies from what was then called French Equatorial Africa in this unit, and discussed topics relating to histories of race, gender, and emotions in wartime Allied medicine. Through a mixture of mini lectures, worksheets, and classroom-based learning activities, these workshops were aimed at developing students’ confidence and skills in analysing oral, film, and written primary sources and introducing them to history at university. Students demonstrated their engagement with the topics in all three workshops by writing a postcard ‘home’ from the desert, in which they were asked to imagine that they were either a nurse or an ambulance driver writing to a loved one.


In Collaboration with Cedar Mount Academy

In April, Laure Humbert and Frances Houghton are starting a series of five workshops for GSCE students from Cedar Mount Academy on ‘Allied Medicine and the Second World War’. The three aims of these workshops are to (a) enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of the global nature of the war, (b) encourage debate and critical enquiry around race, gender and medicine and (c) introduce students to history at university, by giving a taste of research-led teaching. Through a mixture of short lectures, worksheet activities and independent research, students will be encouraged to think about the ways in which war medicine shaped and consolidated ideas about gender and racial differences. They will also be prompted to reflect on how broad issues of mental health were experienced and medically diagnosed in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

Click on the resource links to download our worksheets. Please also feel free to send us a comment (in the ‘contact’ section of the website) if you have found these resources useful.


Box FAU/SYR – A73 – Middle East Hadfield-Spears [undated];  Britain Yearly Meeting. Acknowledgement ‘Images supplied courtesy of Library of the Society of Friends’

For our second session and to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we used our research to help open up wider conversations surrounding mental health with GCSE students in our May school workshop. Reflecting this year’s theme of ‘Nature’ and mental health, we created a mini lecture and workshop activities on how tropical climates adversely impacted the mental health of Royal Navy sailors during the Second World War. Students were encouraged work through activities examining how everyday factors of service in the Tropics such as heat, discomfort, missing family, long distance from home, and lack of rest/physical exercise, in addition to the intense stress of enduring enemy attacks and fear of injury, eroded the resilience and mental wellbeing of these men. Students were also encouraged to reflect on how stereotypes of ‘manliness’ hindered free and open discussion of sailors’ anxieties, and to use historical perspectives to discuss how gendered assumptions might impact mental health in a broader, more contemporary sense.