You want us to collect moss?

Objective

Using the information provided in the Resources section, can you work out the answers to the questions below?

You could go further, and investigate how the moss was supposed to work, and whether or not it was useful?

Method

Use the information and images in the Resources section to find the answers to the following questions.

  1. What is Spaghnum Moss?
  2. Where did it grow?
  3. Who collected it?
  4. How it was used?

Why don’t you try working on your own research to see if you can discover how the moss was supposed to work and whether or not it was useful?

Teacher Notes

Setting the Scene

The many injuries sustained by soldiers at the front increased the need for surgical dressings. The qualities of Sphagnum moss were well known and demand grew. It was also common during the war years for the local population, including children to undertake fundraising and various collections to help the war effort.

This exercise is best undertaken with access to the internet.

  1. Questions 1-4 will help students understand what the Moss was, where it grew and who collected it. Answers can be found below.
  2. The final suggestion could be set as a homework investigation. Colyton Grammar School‘s web site is offering a scientific take on the qualities of the moss.

Q1 Ans. Sphagnum moss, known for its antiseptic and absorbent qualities, was found to be an ideal filling for the thousands of surgical dressings that were in great demand during the War. A two ounce dressing could absorb two pounds of fluid from a casualty.
Q2 Ans. Sphagnum moss grew wild and in abundance on the moor from where it was harvested during the summer. During the War it was brought back to depots around the moor.
Q3 Ans having been collected by local children and women. The most important of these was the one set up in the Imperial Hotel in Princetown, funded by the Prince of Wales. Q4 Ans. Here it was sorted, dried and made into dressings.

Resources

Moss Information Sheet
BBC – WW1 at home