History students from Bexhill High have been working with the University of Brighton to learn more about World War I.
The focus of the study was the role the city of Brighton played in the war.
Between 1914 and 1916, around 12,000 injured soldiers from India were treated in Brighton’s hospitals. Most were looked after in the Victorian former workhouse, renamed as the Kitchener Indian Hospital, but some were cared for in the exotic surroundings of the iconic Royal Pavilion.The Year 9 and Year 10 students took part in a workshop run by tutors from the University of Brighton who provided varied resources, including letters written by the soldiers, contemporary newspaper reports and newsreels which provided a fascinating insight into the life of the injured soldiers who were a long way from home in a strange environment.
As well as learning about India’s place in the British Empire, the students confidently discussed challenging and thought-provoking ideas such as why the soldiers were separated by caste within the hospitals, why they were restricted access to the city centre and how they were used for propaganda purposes.
Later in the day, the students were delighted to be taken on a tour of the Pavilion – a unique building which appears Indian on the outside and Chinese on the inside. Armed with old photographs to remind them how the building was converted into a hospital, they were able to visit the huge kitchen which served as an operating theatre, and the banqueting hall which was effectively converted into a ward crammed full of beds.
Andy Mortimer, Interim Principal at Bexhill High, said, ‘We are most grateful to the University of Brighton for their support in this project and the students were totally motivated and engaged by the work they carried out.’