The March Hero
Commemorates the bravery of Jim Hocking, a young Australian pilot deployed to England aged just 21 to fly for the RAF. This was due to a shortage of English pilots after World War 1. In the early hours of July 28th, 1944, Jim and his crew were returning to base after a routine flight in a Sterling Bomber (a plane with a poor reputation for safety) when one of the engines caught fire. Approaching the town of March, Cambridgeshire, Jim ordered his crew to abandon the plane. He told them he would join them when it was safe. Instead Jim steered the plane away from the town centre to crash land in a field away from people and buildings, tragically taking his own life in the process.
This compelling story of one young man’s bravery was one we wanted local children to learn about to ensure the legacy of Jim's actions are passed down future generations. To date we have shared this story with 120 children from Cavalry Primary School. Pupils spent a day with our team at March Town Hall to learn about Jim. They also watched our own World War 2 film, Home From Home, and took part in letter writing and code breaking activities. They also visited March Museum and the Jim Hocking memorial before spending another day at the Festival Of The Forties event where they met several Home Guard, RAF and Home Front reenactors. These individuals and groups helped captivate pupils through immersive experiences.
Dot Whittington from the town of Nambour wrote a book called The March Hero which told Jim's story. The book includes letters sent to and from Jim and his family back home. We were fortunate to meet some of Jim’s relatives before we started the project and they agreed to read and record some of these letters for us.
This project is still active, with the plan to roll out resources and schools days to local primary schools over the coming year.
Working in partnership with Fenland Bushcraft and Heritage Culture and Community, a local heritage group, we were able to deliver three heritage events at Stonea Camp. Stonea is a Roman and Celtic site located between Wimblington and Manea in Fenland. The heritage days welcomed over 200 children to the site. The children had the opportunity to learn from a range of reenactors including Romans, Celts and Saxons. They also learnt how to make fire. They worked with Cambridgeshire Archeologists and watched a wonderful flying display of birds.
Home from Home
In 2016, 20Twenty Productions produced a half-length feature film that dramatised the story of how children were evacuated to Chatteris during World War 2. The film was funded by the Heritage Lottery and developed with local young people. This enabled all involved to learn a great deal more about what life was like in rural Britain during the 1940s and what life may have been like for young people who were forced to leave their homes and continue life with a new family in a strange place. We are very proud of this film and it remains an ideal resource for schools to teach pupils about World War 2.
Young Criminals in Wisbech - early 1900’s
In Autumn 2017, Year 4 children from Peckover Primary Academy attended a fascinating exhibition, in Wisbech Museum’s library, about child convicts imprisoned during the 1900s. They researched each juvenile convict after which they created a very moving short film about them. This detailed their (by comparison) minor crimes and (by comparison) harsh punishments. There was an overwhelmingly harsh and unjust comparison to modern day punishment.