A HISTORICAL reenactment enthusiast has wound back the clock and transformed his back garden into a living replica of the First World War in the name of education.
Wayne Batchelor, of Ardsheal Road, Worthing, invited a group of students to get a taster of life on the front line and learn more about the period. Digging a trench, baking in a makeshift oven and learning about what soldiers would have to carry with them were some of the ways in which the Great War Society member brought history to life. The students were all part of the Creative Waves project, which teamed up with Wayne to deliver the unique experience.
Wayne said: “I have always loved to reenact history. I’m interested in experiencing things hands-on.
“The past is not really a place you can visit but doing things like this brings it to life.
“Here, I’ve given the children a taste of army life in 1914, starting with a quick lecture on the various parts of a trench, letting them dig their own.”
Dressed in period costume – historically accurate to the paperwork in his pocket – Wayne covered subjects such as what an officer survived on, what he had to carry and how the trenches were specially constructed to enable soldiers to stand up and fire, as well as take cover.
At lunchtime, they dined on freshly baked bread and scones, cooked in the special ‘Aldershot oven’, which Wayne built from half an oil drum and bricks.
He said: “We created a scaled down moveable Aldershot oven, which was what the army used in 1914 for baking.
“The original was an arched piece of steel with moveable doors at either end and then covered with a row of bricks at the front and earth or clay but for ours I used half an oil drum.
“It took a bit of experimentation to get the temperature right but for me, that’s a great way of understanding the past.”
The project is not the first time Wayne has hit the headlines. Along with his son Oliver, 13, he has camped out in his back garden in the style of explorer Captain Scott and restored a war shelter to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Blitz.
In the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, Wayne said it is important residents understand the sacrifices made by troops.
He said: “A lot of people from Worthing went through this experience. They were real people, not just photographs.”