Last Post: The Postal Service in the First World War, a free learning resource for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 from the British Postal Museum & Archive, sponsored by Royal Mail
Last Post: The Postal Service in the First World War reveals the fascinating human stories of the General Post Office (GPO) at War.
Did you know?
- In the First World War letters took just two days to reach the Front Line
- 12.5 million letters were sent to the Front Lines every week
- 12,000 soldiers served in the General Post Office’s own regiment, the Post Office Rifles
- 33,000 women stepped into postal jobs traditionally held by men
GPO in the First World War
During the First World War the GPO released more than 75,000 employees to fight, including 12,000 men who fought in its own regiment, the Post Office Rifles. In their absence the GPO became one of the largest employers of women when over 33,000 women stepped in to fill these positions.
The Post Office Rifles fought in many of the First World War’s major battles after arriving in France in March 1915. For their services members were awarded 145 decorations for gallantry, including one Victoria Cross and 27 battle honours. Four postal workers won the Victoria Cross during the course of the war but Sgt Alfred Knight, whose story of selflessness and bravery is explored in the learning resource, was the only Post Office Rifle.
During the conflict, the GPO controlled Britain’s domestic postal, telegraph and telephone services. Writing and receiving letters and parcels were a vital part of sustaining morale and overcoming the boredom of trench life. This meant that letters were written to and from the Front Line with great frequency. When war broke out, a purpose built sorting office was created in London’s Regent’s Park called the Home Depot to handle this increase in the volume of mail. At the height of the war it handled over 12.5 million letters a week. Every letter sent from Britain to the fighting fronts was sorted and censored here by over 2,500 workers, many of them women, and on average it only took two days for a letter from Britain to reach the Western Front.
The Learning Resource
In Last Post war time characters guide pupils through the different topics to tell these stories and many more. Using real archival documents, photographs, maps and museum objects they will discover how the postal service went to war. There are also over 100 fun and engaging cross-curricular activities to aid learning, including how to make a Morse code transmitter, how to send a secret message by pigeon post and how to search the Royal Mail war memorials database to learn about the impact of the war in your area.
The free resource includes:
- lesson plans
- teacher’s notes
- PowerPoints for whiteboards
- image galleries
- over 100 activity ideas