Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

WW1 for the next generation

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Kate Quigley, Niamh McDevitt and principal Paul O'Hea from Nazareth House Primary School
Kate Quigley, Niamh McDevitt, and their principal Paul O'Hea

Frederick Conway Slater was born in 1888 in Londonderry and died in 1915 on the Western Front.

A stretcher-bearer, he was shot by a rifleman and carried to a small village, where he died three years later.

Now, more than 90 years after his death, Frederick's story has sparked his great-great granddaughter's Niamh McDevitt's interest in the events of the First World War.

A pupil at Nazareth House Primary School in Derry, Niamh and her Primary Seven classmates have been researching their family history in conjunction with the Diamond War Memorial Project to help learn about the First World War.

"We still have his medals, which are really interesting to see," said Niamh.

"My granny and her sister first found out about my great-great grandfather because they were researching our family tree.

"We had a picture taken of my great granny, my granny, my mum and me - my great granny was his daughter, so it's really close to him," said Niamh.

Twice wounded

Her classmate Kate Quigley said her parents found out she had a relative who fought in the First World War when they read about in the local paper.

"He was called Daniel Carlin, and he was my great grandfather," she said.

"He was a young man, and he was wounded and was taken to hospital and they sent him back to the war again.

"He was wounded again and then they sent him home for good in 1916," she said.

"I'm glad I don't have to go off to war like him," she said.

Names on war memorial, Diamond, Derry
Albert O'Hea's name is on the war memorial in the Diamond

Their principal, Paul O'Hea, said the project is a useful way of making a 90-year-old war relevant to today's schoolchildren.

"It's something that happened nearly 100 years ago, and when you think about it, that's 10 of their lifetimes," he said.

"It's something that's very difficult for them to understand.

"If there's a story element that the pupils can latch onto, it makes all the difference to them.

"We had one story about a bugler who was killed who was only 14 - that isn't that much older than them," he said.

Mr O'Hea said he also had relatives who were killed in the First World War.

"My grandfather fought in it, as did three of my great-uncles," he said.

"Two of them were killed, one was captured at Vimy Ridge during the Battle of the Somme, and the other, so the story goes, was with the Connaught Rangers when they mutinied in India.

"We have a picture of my great-uncle, Seaman Albert O'Hea, who was killed in 1914 in the South Atlantic.

"It's scary, the resemblance between them.

"That's the kind of thing that makes it very real," he said.

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