Hey guys welcome back to another post. At the time of writing this, it is December 18th, the last day of school before winter break. This means that PLP 10 just finished another project. All we have to do now is write the reflection post. So here I am.
These past 5 weeks have all been about WW2. “How might we use stories to understand the causes and consequences of WW2?” That was the driving question of this project, so a lot of the classes were pretty heavy on cause and consequence.
If you keep up to date with my blog then you would know that I am making a podcast. My podcast is called “Kidz These Dayz” and it is a podcast that sheds light on certain events or people from a teenage perspective. I wanted this episode to be about teenagers enlisting in WW2. I found this to be a good topic because I could highlight the causes of teenage soldiers, and the consequences of these teens going to war at such a young age.
There were four curricular competencies assessed in this project: Analyzing Cause and Consequence, using Evidence and Resources, being a Global Collaborator, and Responding to Text. I will be using the 6 milestones we did on this project to show my learning, so lets get right into it.
Analyzing Cause and Consequence: Who or what influenced events to occur and what were the consequences of those events? For this competency we are understanding cause and consequence. While I was working on milestones related to this competency I was always thinking “Why did this happen?” and “How did this affect future events?” I think I managed to answer these questions pretty well. My podcast was about teens going off to war at a young age, so I wanted to focus on the causes for these teens. I spoke to Major Robert Irvine at the 6 Field Engineer Squadron about why kids went to war at a young age and he gave me some very interesting answers. I can’t give his answers all away here (go listen to my podcast if you want to find out) but he essentially said that many teens felt a responsibility to serve after father figures and older friends already enlisted. Others wanted to experience the new tech that was being used in the Second World War so they would try to enlist with the Air Force. Some consequences of teens going off to war was the loss of friends, the loss of a proper education, and in some cases, imprisonment for lying on a legal form. So I think I very successfully analyzed cause and consequence and included it in my blog.
Many of the teens wanted to join the air force because it was seen as new and exciting, techy, etc. It was however every bit as dangerous as the navy and army. Those too young to join the services would sometimes be picked up by the Merchant Navy to crew freighters, etc.
– Major Robert A. Irvine on why teenagers would enlist in WW2
This answer was what guided me in picking a main focus for my podcast episode, which was the Merchant Navy.
Global Collaborator: How might I use technology to connect to the world? So I just mentioned above that I contacted Major Irvine to help in making my podcast episode. For this competency we were being assessed on contacting someone for our podcast. So not only did I contact Major Irvine, but I contacted the Canadian War Museum, I contacted Gilbert King who is an author of an article about a teen in WW2, and I contacted the Museum of North Vancouver. I also contacted a WW2 veteran. So I think the effort was definitely there in this competency. The only problem is nobody out of this group besides Major Irvine was willing to be interviewed. The Canadian War Museum sent me some wonderful resources, and the Museum of North Vancouver directed me to Major Irvine, but I wasn’t able to contact everyone on this list. Nevertheless the info I got from these people and organizations was invaluable in creating my podcast so I think I did do well in this competency.
Using Evidence and Resources: Have I found diverse sources and evaluated them for their relevance, accuracy, and reliability? This was a difficult competency for me to work on at the start of this project. We started this competency with a paragraph about nationalism that I don’t think was my best work. I also had trouble with finding reliable resources to conduct my research on WW2. But then I contacted the people above and I started to improve on this. I can proudly say that I have learned how to cite a website using MLA formatting. I don’t think I would have learned this without this project, so I definitely think that is a win. Learning how to cite in MLA format allowed me to figure out if the resources were reliable, and now I could show my listeners where I got my information. This made it very easy to write my script, so I really enjoyed that.
My Script - Try to find where I mention causes and consequences of teens in WW2.
Introduction – 5 second silence, narrator hits hot in the clear
Welcome to another episode of Kidz These Dayz. My name is Benjamin and I will be your host for this podcast episode. On this podcast I will be expressing and talking about certain topics from the point of view of a teenager. Today, we talk about teenagers serving in the Second World War. Or more specifically, how we can use stories to understand the causes and consequences of teenagers serving in WWII.
Topic 1 – Intro Music Hits Hot and Fades out
WWII is probably one of the most well known events of modern history. It’s impossible to look at how Europe, and pretty much the world, is right now without mentioning the Second World War. Over 85 million people died from 1939-1945 due to WWII. Over 70 million soldiers fought in WWII, but a surprising number of them were teenagers. In fact, approximately 700,000 Canadian teenagers fought in WWII (Canada). And thats only from Canada. Towards the end of the war, Hitler’s SS Panzer Division consisted of over 65% 16-17 year olds, and only 3% were over 25. But what drew these teens to go off to war at such a young age?
I spoke to Major Robert A. Irvine about teenagers in WWII, and he mentioned that many teens felt a responsibility to serve. After their friends, fathers, and siblings joined many underage teenagers felt like it was a responsibility to follow in their footsteps, and many didn’t want to wait 2-3 more years to become 18 and legally enlist. Instead of staying home and tending to the farms, and working in factories, teens viewed being a soldier as a far more glamorous job, and so when war broke out, many teens tried to enlist as fast as possible. In fact the youngest teenager to fight in WWII was seaman Calvin Graham of the USS South Dakota (King). Graham was 13 when he enlisted, and decided to enlist when some of his cousins were killed in battle. He felt a responsibility to fight for his fallen family, even though he was only 11 when they died(King).
Other teens enjoyed the new high tech of the Air Force, and tried to enlist there. It all goes back to glamour. Flying planes high in the air at unbelievable speeds was a lot more attractive to teens, and so many chose the Air Force as the first place to enlist. Once they enlisted, it was just up to whether they looked old enough. Many teens would start shaving early to look older (King). If they looked old enough, they were accepted, as the military was running low on troops towards the end of the war, so ethical decisions flew out the door. If they got rejected… well then they would either be sent home to help their family, or be accepted into the Merchant Navy.(Personal)
Transition music fades in
The Merchant Navy was neither more nor less dangerous than the Navy. The Merchant Navy just had a different purpose. Their job was to transport goods across the Atlantic Ocean, from North America to England. During the 1940s, this was no easy task. German U-Boats were prowling the waters, and the Merchant Navy was one of their favourite targets. From 1939 to 1945, over 50,000 merchant seamen would die or be marked as Missing in Action. Compared to other armed forces like the army and Air Force, the Merchant Navy would have the highest death rate among seamen. Over 27% of all merchant seamen would die, as the Navy consisted of 185,000 men and women(WW2).
I had the opportunity to explore the resource known as the Memory Project. The Memory Project is a non-profit organization that collects audio and stories from Canadian war veterans. While looking through the Memory Project I came across Mr. George Belanger.
Clip of Georges Belanger introducing
Georges was part of the Military Police in 1945 and later the Merchant Navy. Georges suffered many losses of close friends throughout the war. In fact, while he was in the MP, he would lose over 7 friends in the Merchant Navy from German U-Boats in only one night.
Clip of Georges talking about “When they left Newfoundland, the German U-Boats sank them.” Finish clip at “It motivated us to do something.”
Georges, the 16 year old, was obviously extremely upset about this, and while working for the Military Police, would decide to hide 2 men who were supposed to be going to Normandy for D-Day.
Clip of Georges saying “when the MP caught me, they thought that I was pretty smart.” End clip at “…hiding those guys in my house.”
Georges would be forced to enter the Navy, Army, or Air Force because of his actions. As he didn’t have the education for any of them, he would be forced into the Merchant Navy. This was a fairly light “sentence”, as many teenage soldiers like Calvin Graham would be imprisoned upon return to their country. Georges bad luck of losing friends wouldn’t end with his termination from the Military Police.
Clip of Georges saying “One night, 15 corvettes left the site…”. End clip at “They couldn’t have planned it better.”
A corvette was a small class warship, or in the Merchant Navy, was a transport ship. These ships were fairly common targets of U-Boat attacks, as they didn’t have the same defensive capabilities as a battleship or destroyer.
Georges would end up spending 6 months with the Merchant Navy until the end of the war. After the war Georges would get involved with the Royal Canadian Legion to educate the youth about war. The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit Canadian ex-service organization founded in 1925. Their motto is “memoriam do rum retinebimus:, which translates to We Will Remember Them.
Play clip of Georges saying “Just because we are comfortable today…” end clip at “we know what happened.”
Topic 3 – 4 second silence as transition
Bill Edwardes, a soldier for the British army, joined when he was 16 years old. he would lie on his enlistment form and say he was 17 and a half. After being accepted, he was very soon sent to the front line as a stretcher bearer. This was an extremely difficult task, as you would have to decide in the moment who should die, and who should be saved. He would say afterwards, “I was 12 when war broke out, I was 18 when it ended. People say to me, ‘that was your youth gone’. It didn’t go; it was just spent in a different way. I was saving people’s lives.”(History)
Alexander Burton was another teenager who, like Georges, joined the Merchant Navy as a teenager. After the war, he shared his story with the Memory Project as well. Burton experienced a different struggle than Georges did.
Play clip of Burton talking “I grew from a teenager to an adult…” end clip at “…land grants and you know, awards and so on.”
This actually wasn't uncommon for teenage soldiers. Remember Calvin Graham, the 13 year old gunner? Well after seeing battle in the Pacific Theatre, Graham would return home to Texas. He received a Bronze Star for distinguishing himself in combat, and a purple heart for his injuries sustained in battle. But his mother recognized him on the news and wrote to the Navy, revealing his age. Graham was thrown in a brig at Corpus Christi in Texas for 3 months(King).
After Grahams sister wrote to the news about how the Navy was mistreating Graham, the Navy released him, but stripped him of his medals and revoked his disability benefits. All because he lied about his age. Graham would end up never being honourably discharged until 1977. Many other teenage soldiers were afraid of the same thing happening to them, and never came forward as a teenage vet(King).
Outro – Outro music fades in
Ultimately, I think these teens all were shaped from their experience in war. Belanger’s life after war was shaped by the things he saw and experienced. Edwardes and Burton both feel like they grew up in a rapid time due to spending time in war. And Graham, well his entire life was fighting these unfair consequences of enlisting as a teenager. They all joined as kids, and left the military adults. They joined the military just to see and experience the worst things a teenage mind could experience. These kids were heroes, and they definitely should receive recognition and the same benefits as other soldiers, but I think these age restrictions are there for a reason. Minds as young as theirs should not have to suffer and experience the horrors of war.
WWII has millions of amazing stories from veterans, but ones that aren’t as recognized are teens. Kids as young as 15 years old would be volunteering to be sent to the front lines of the bloodiest event of the 20th century. Deciding to risk your life, just to return home and not be able to receive any recognition for fear of imprisonment. You think about it and you wonder if you would have volunteered that young. Knowing you might not return, and view the most horrific things the world has to offer. Being the age of these heroes, I can’t imagine myself doing that. I want to thank Major Robert Irvine, and the Memory Project for providing me with the recordings of these veterans. I also want to thank you for listening to the second episode of Kidz These Dayz, and I hope you tune in for my next episode. Have a good one.
Responding to Text: Have I constructed an original connection between myself, the text, and the world? This was an interesting competency for me. It took some time for me to get this one right. I had to do multiple revisions on my script to work on this competency. Looking back, this would have been very easy. I have a very big connection to this topic I have chosen. I am the same age as these soldiers! Once I made this realization, I actually found it very fun to write about this. If you listen to my podcast, I hope you can hear the connections I make to these teenage heroes.
Now, finally we get to my podcast episode itself. This is definitely a better episode than my last one. Ms. Maxwell was constantly nagging me to SPEAK SLOWER in the last episode. So for this one, I made that a priority. I think I went through 3 or 4 takes for each recording to make sure I wasn’t speaking too fast, and even then I would send it to someone and get their opinion. I ended up using clips from the Memory Project too, as they have wonderful recordings of war veterans around the world. I recommend you check it out.
All in all this was a pretty fun project. I have enjoyed learning about WW2 and WW1 since I was in grade 4, so whenever it comes up in a project I am always thrilled. This being said, I don’t think I held up to the standard I think I should be at. Some of my work was not as good as I think I could have completed it at. I look forward to other projects about these topics, as I am hoping to redeem myself from this project. Thank you for reading my post, and I hope you check out my podcast! See ya!
Click here to listen to Episode 2 of “Kidz These Dayz”.