This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can create a timeline of World War I and then build a 3-D map of the miraculous World War One Battle of Mons with your whole family together!
You can use the timeline below to explore the whole scope of WWI then take a closer look at one of the first battles, the Battle of Mons.
The Battle of Mons was one of the earliest battles in World War One. It was fought between the Germans, who had invaded Belgium, and the British. The British were beaten during this battle and forced to retreat many miles over the course of two weeks by the greatly superior numbers of the Germans. But the British commanders and the press spun it as a victory. Part of that victory was told in the form of a myth about angel warriors guarding the retreat of the British.
Step 1: Library Research
Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about World War One. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about World War I. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.
As Amazon affiliates, the recommended books and products below kick back a tiny percentage of your purchase to us. It doesn’t affect your cost and it helps us run our website. We thank you!
DKfindout! World War I
by Brian Williams
Everything World War I
by Karen L. Kenney
Mons 1914: The BEF’s Tactical Triumph
by David Lomas
Step 2: World War I Timeline
For this exploration you will need the World War I Timeline printable, scissors, glue, and crayons or colored pencils.
This is what the World War I timeline looks like assembled.
First, cut apart the timeline strips on the dashed lines. Glue them together end to end to make one long strip.
Then color the timeline squares. Cut them apart. Arrange them on your timeline strip in order. Glue them to the timeline strip one by one as you read about each event on the timeline. The printable above has an explanation of each event and why it was important to WWI.
If you like you can add this timeline as a pop-out timeline to your Book of Years. It can also be used alone or folded and glued on a page in your notebook. This video shows how the timeline can be added to the Book of Years.
Explore World War I With A Map of Mons
First tell the story of the Angels of Mons.
The Angels of Mons
A month after the battle of Mons a Welsh author wrote a short story called “The Bowmen” in a London newspaper. The story became extremely popular and not only that, but people thought it was literally true. Even some of the soldiers who had fought in the Battle of Mons began to think the events had really happened, though the author insisted again and again that it was just a story and never intended to be a factual report. This is the story, rephrased.
The British Expeditionary Force had arrayed itself ready for battle, expecting to hold off and most probably repel the Germans. Then the enemy appeared in the thousands upon thousands. The enemy soldiers just kept coming and coming. The soldiers of both sides fought hard all day and all night. In the morning the brave British soldeirs were still fighting, but the enemy was still coming. There were so many, so many.
The British were being pushed back and back. Soon they would have no choice but to retreat. A beleaguered soldier, fearing for his life and the lives of his brother soldiers, called upon Saint George, the patron saint of England. And there, as the British withdrew, another host came to hold the line. But this was not an earthly army, though they wore armor and carried the good old English longbow. These were phantom soldiers. Angels. The phantom host sent volley after volley of very real arrows into the enemy ranks. The Germans, in spite of their vast numbers, were forced to halt, then creep, then halt again as the arrows pierced their breasts.
The Angels of Mons had saved the British army, allowed them a victorious retreat, and showed that the hand of God was on their side.
Craft a Salt Dough Map of the Mons Battlefield
The Battle of Mons was real, even if the story of the angels was fanciful. You can use salt dough to construct a model of the battlefield.
Color the paper soldiers and cut them out, gluing the rectangles into a circle to create a stand for the soldiers. Then you can use the figures to re-enact the battle.
Step 3: Show What You Know
Retell the story of the Battle of Mons and the angels using the paper figures for an audience. Older teens can research the actual events of the battle and include more details.
Discuss why you think the British people liked the tale of the angels so much that they decided to believe it was true. Did the story help the British to win World War I in the end?
Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.
Write a heroic poem about the Angels of Mons. Start by writing the story down in sentences and paragraphs. Then remove the unnecessary words. Use a thesaurus to choose the perfect words. Arrange the poem into stanzas and make it rhyme if you like.
This is a photo of the Royal Fusiliers right before the Battle of Mons. They faced the heaviest fighting and were the first to earn the Victoria Cross in WWI. Find out what the Victoria Cross is. What are some similar awards around the world?
The angels of Mons were said to be dead longbowmen from the Battle of Agincourt come back to save the British. Just in case you don’t think a bow and arrow would be very threatening, watch this.
Even on a modern battlefield, in the right hands a longbow can do at least as much damage as a modern gun.
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