Victorian military communications offers a number of links with KS2 science (and of course ICT), in particular Sc4 - Physical Processes.
Electricity. The electric telegraph was first used for military purposes during the Crimean War, providing a link with the British Government through submarine cables. By the end of the century, telephones and the electric telegraph were widely used during the South African War (1899-1902). Some 18,000 miles of telegraph and telephone cable were laid during the war and civil telephone networks were used, for example in the defence of Ladysmith. As a foretaste of wars to come, this technology was used for the first time to direct artillery fire. Even wireless equipment was taken to South Africa for testing by Marconis Wireless Telegraph Company Limited. It was not used for military purposes but its potential for war was realised. Children could create their own electric circuits and send morse code messages with buzzers or light bulbs (1a-c).
Light. Lamps, flags and heliographs were important means of communication during the later Victorian period. Even during the South African War, with its 'modern' technology, visual techniques were the primary means of communications for forward control. Large and small flags, heliographs and oil lamps with shutters for night communications were all used. A skilled operator could send 8 to 12 words a minute. The climatic conditions were ideal for heliographs (also widely used on India's North-west frontier) and a 10" mirror (3c) could be seen for up to 100 miles. The heliograph (picture, left) was used by a Boer general and with its 5" mirror had a range of about 50 miles. Children could try sending simple messages across the school field with torches, mirrors or even flags and investigate the advantages and disadvantages of each method (3a-d).
Sound. Voice, drums and bugles were all used to send messages throughout the Victorian period in barracks, on the parade ground and in battle. Children could investigate how these sounds carry and their effectiveness (3e-g), perhaps using datalogging equipment (Sc1 2f).
This subject offers plenty of scope for art activities. On the one hand, it raises issue of colour: the bright, garish colours of parade uniforms could be contrasted with muted camouflage colours (2a). Children could design uniforms or flags, or use Victorian examples as inspiration for more abstract work (2c). On the other hand, the Victorians relished images of the exploits of their brave soldiers (5d). Photography was invented early in Victoria's reign and the Crimean War was the first British campaign to be photographed. Victorian soldiers, as well as civilians, liked having their photos taken (4c). These images tend to be posed and static (see the photo, right, of a soldier and his wife in India c.1890), so for more active pictures, war artists were required (4c). Melton Prior was a famous artist-correspondent and his work, engraved by craftsmen at home (4b-c), was reproduced in the Illustrated London News. There are battle paintings (e.g. Lady Butler), prints and postcards of military uniforms and scenes (e.g. Michael Angelo Hayes, Richard Simkin and Harry Payne) and the use of military images in advertising and on products, for example Camp Coffee and cigarette cards.
Drums, bugles and trumpets were used in barracks and on the battlefield for
short range signalling, as well as more musical purposes (4b-d). Drums and
bands helped keep soldiers in step on the march and raise their spirits.
Soldiers sang to entertain themselves. The title of this web site, Hurrah!
For the Life of a Soldier' was a popular song during the Crimean War and
was, apparently, sung without irony. Although soldiers did write and sing songs
about themselves, 'military' songs tended to be for public consumption in the
music halls. Soldiers themselves preferred the 'pop' songs of the day. During
the Egyptian and Sudanese campaigns of the 1880s, the Whitechapel Polka,
a gruesome ditty about Jack the Ripper, was a particular favourite. And a Royal
Artillery battery which formed its own little band, chose a music hall song,
When We're Married We'll Have Sausages for Tea to be its battery march;
much to the consternation of its commanding officer. For modern recreations of
Victorian music you would need to investigate folk, traditional and military