Brilliant Things You Can Do to Enhance Your WW1 & WW2 History Tour

Last updated: Apr 18th, 2024

So your tailor-made history tour is planned and your students are getting even more prepared with each passing day – but what other things can you do to really lift your tour from good to unforgettable?

Well we had two incredible History Tour Guides come into Rayburn recently and impart some of their unending wisdom on us, and these following snippets really shone. 


‘You’ve got to bring history to life.’

Tony Smith, History Tour Guide



Student holds photo of soldier  with memorial field in background

Research your local area (look at a nearby memorial)

Each war had a gigantic impact on areas up and down the country and knowing if you can connect names with your school to a site you’re visiting, gives your tour all the more emotion and power.

Just imagine, you’ve researched a local officer who hailed from your area and his name is on the town’s memorial – where you can bring your students to their grave in Ypres, Somme or Normandy. Putting a focus on an individual and attaching to their home really adds weight to a story, it humanises it, and the result is often engagement, education and real world experiences of getting to grips with history.

Get students to ask their family about relatives who fought during those conflicts

With both wars still in living memory, there are moments when students can bring their own emotional weight to a history tour – putting a focus on the individual story for the whole class.

They can do this by simply asking their family if they had any relatives who fought and died in the war, or maybe relatives who fought at a certain place and lived to tell the tale.

Asking your class before you go makes the moment when you get to that site they fought at or the memorial they’re a part of all the more resonant. A poignant and lasting moment for sure.


‘I leave the students with a grave for 5 minutes to talk and get a connection with their relative.’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide


Students hold photos of soldiers from the World Wars whilst at a memorial.

Look at the effect of the war on your local school area

Whilst researching your local area and finding names of soldiers who you can connect with graves during visits of sites during your history tour – you can look at the effect of war on your local area as well.

There were groups of British soldiers who enlisted who all came from the same street, area, town or city, and were named Pal Regiments. Some fought in the bloody battle of the Somme, where whole battalions lost their lives.

There are re cases where whole streets, areas and towns lose a vast majority, if not all, of their men in one morning of fighting. And you can connect those places to the places your students now live. 

Giving context and a powerful focus on the impact of both World Wars. 


‘We bring those historical events back to life as much as we can to put the students in the position of the people from those days.’

Tony Smith, History Tour Guide



Sites with local interest – like the Manchester Hill or Devonshire Trench

 There might be a particular site or memorial with more gravitas than most for your school – like Devonshire Trench or Manchester Hill. Knowing that can help you choose the site with the maximum effect, engagement, connection and poignancy for your students. 


Research local sportsmen, writers, celebrities who went to war

Another way to connect the history of both wars with something that resonates with your students today, is understanding if there were local sportsmen or writers who went to war. 

Using figures like footballer Walter Tull, who is remembered at the Arras Memorial, and writers like Robert Graves and Siegried Sasson, who both had lasting impacts with their poetry, helps pupils compare their history with the history they’re studying. 

Understand the different, diverse & multicultural backgrounds

Just like our diverse and vibrant society today – the ranks of Allied Forces were bursting with a wide range of multicultural backgrounds.

And this can really bring home the international impact both conflicts had on so many people with rich and diverse histories. Sites like:

  • Vimy Ridge
  • Ulster Tower
  • Delville Wood Memorial
  • Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial
  • Menin Gate

It widens the scope of students thinking and gives the chance of all students connecting with a historical place.


‘To find the proportion of boys, girls, different cultures and backgrounds helps us personalise the history tour.’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide


But don’t worry if you can’t, as a History Tour Guide will be able too!

Using some or all of the points above will certainly prime your tour to be the most engaging and emotionally charged it can be.

History Tour Guides are constantly looking at ways to tailor-make the WWI & 2 sites to include a personal element to your school, students or area.

Which means, if you choose a History Tour Guide on your trip, they may be able to perform the above research themselves – or already have the information at hand. Giving your tour even more poignant moments and chances to stick with your students for a lifetime.

If you want to explore a History Tour Guide accompanying you on tour, call or email us and we can set the wheels in motion.


‘You can’t alter history but your students can learn from it so it doesn’t happen again.’

Trevor Booker, History Tour Guide

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