2016 Competition

Letters Home was an opportunity for school-age children in Scotland to explore the power of words in conveying how conflicts affect the men and women involved in past, recent and current wars. It supported the question, “Why is it important to remember?”

The competition for 2016 was comprised of a writing competition focused around a letter home from a soldier fighting in the Battle of the Somme. There were two categories-primary and secondary.

Closing date was December 2nd 2016. You can find more information about our 2016 competition below.



Letters Home Competition Information

“Please tell Dad that I got his parcel for which I am very thankful. I should be very pleased to have a cake and also a few matches. I wish to God this war was over, I still hope to come back alive.”

Letters Home is an opportunity for school-age children in Scotland to explore the power of words in conveying how conflicts affect the men and women involved in past, recent and current wars. It supports the question, “Why is it important to remember?”

Letters Home is a letter writing competition for school-age children in Scotland, divided into two age groups; P 4-7 and S 1-3. Stimulus for the competition comes from the fact that 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Pupils were asked to write a letter home as though they were a soldier fighting in the Battle of the Somme. Pupils were encouraged to think about sharing their experiences, their feelings about the battle and describe the environment they were living in, as well as think about the impact their words would have had on those receiving the letter.

The Prizes

The winning entry will be printed in the thousands and included in the national education packs which are sent to every school in Scotland in 2017. In addition, the winner will receive a tablet and runners up will receive a National Book Token and a certificate.


Letters home to their loved ones provide us with a unique insight into what soldiers were thinking and experiencing during the First World War.

The wartime post was very effective at keeping servicemen in touch with home, with 12.5 million letters being sent to the front line every week. It made a big difference to their morale to both send and receive letters.

Letters were censored by officers to make sure no information was given to the enemy and often samples were given to the commanding officers so they knew what the men were thinking.

At the start of the war, soldier’s letters home would be passed onto local newspapers with extracts being published, so people at home got more of an idea what was happening overseas. However, often the men made light of their experiences so as not to worry their families.

The Competition

Our website has archive film footage, lesson plans and photos to help inspire your creativity. This will introduce the history of Poppyscotland and also help to explain the ideas of Remembrance and its relevance today.

The format of entries had to follow the following guidelines:

  • Email entries will not be accepted.
  • Entries must be the pupils’ original work. Letters which copy or plagiarise other people’s content will be disqualified.
  • Where possible, we encourage the letters to be handwritten.
  • All letters should be written on the official entry form provided.
  • The word limit for Primary is 300 words and for Secondary is 500 words.
  • We cannot return the entries to the school, so take a copy of entries if you would like a record.
  • We only need one entry form per class/school/youth group, but remember to write the pupils name, age and school/group on the back of each entry.
  • Please post your entries to our freepost address (which is case sensitive): Freepost POPPYSCOTLAND EDUCATION

There were two categories – Primary and Secondary. Entries from each category were shortlisted and will be judged by our Poppyscotland panel led by Scottish journalist and television presenter Kirsty Wark. Other members of our panel will include our Chief Executive Mark Bibbey, Chair of the Scottish Writer’s Centre Ruby McCann and Poppyscotland’s new Education & Volunteer Coordinator Yvonne Caddell.

It’s more than just words….

Pupils were encouraged to be creative, as this competition was not just for use in English classes. Schools were encouraged to use it as a cross-curricular opportunity with Social Studies. An example of lesson plans for Primary and Secondary, linked to Curriculum for Excellence are available for download from the website.

We are here to help

Please get in touch if you have any questions or ideas to discuss.

Learning & Volunteer Coordinator

0141 338 6586       learning@poppyscotland.org.uk

Closing Date

The deadline for entries is now closed.

Winners will be announced in January 2017.

Letters Home Suggested Resources

To set the scene and increase the pupils’ ability to empathize, they could read the passage from Michael Morpurgo’s novel Private Peaceful, in which the soldier, Tommo, receives a letter from his mother. Do your pupils hold any treasured family letters of their own? Also, check with your local library to see if they hold any original letters or contemporary press cuttings which quote from letters sent home.

Useful websites

Battle of the Somme





The Scottish Governments First World War Commemorative website



Day in the life of a soldier in the trenches during the First World War



Audio Footage







Video footage





Examples of Soldier’s Letters