I re-watched “War Horse” a few nights ago, that wonderful film from the book by Michael Morpurgo that tells the tale of a brave horse and his human friend who both come through the horrors of the First World War after many trials and are finally united. ** As always, it reminded me of the story’s links with a real-life war horse and the man who bred and raised him on the Isle of Wight.
The original horse that served in the war was called Warrior and his story was told in 1934 by General Jack Seely in a book called My Horse Warrior, re-published in 2011, then again in paperback in 2013 and 2014. It tells the story of Warrior from his birth in a field on the family’s estate on the Isle of Wight and how, due to a combination of character and some twists of fate, he was able to survive Ypres, The Somme and Passchendaele in a war in which over 8 million horses, donkeys and mules died. Warrior lived to the age of 33 and died at his home in Mottistone, Isle of Wight, in 1941 and in 2014 his bravery was rewarded posthumously with an honorary PDSA Dickin Medal (the VC for animals).
From a happy life in the fields of the estate on the Isle of Wight, Warrior was sent to war along with his owner, where as a result of his being able to survive so much, he gained a reputation for bravery under fire and was adopted as his formation’s mascot, as well as earning the nickname ‘the horse the Germans couldn’t kill’ – this from the Canadian cavalrymen he led.
His owner was no less brave. On the Western Front he was involved in some of the defining moments of the First World War and led one of the last cavalry charges in history at the Battle of Moreuil Wood, on his faithful horse Warrior, in March 1918.
And so we come to Mottistone Manor, first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 and today a National Trust property. The Manor as it stands today however, was created during the 15th and 16th centuries but the gardens we stroll in came much later. These were laid out in the 1960’s, to the original design, with seasonal plantings which are a delight even in winter.
Mottistone Manor was bought in 1861 by Charles Seely who was a Liberal politician and philanthropist who had made his fortune in the Industrial Revolution, and the Seely who owned Warrior was General Jack Seeley, the First Baron Mottistone, known to all as ‘Galloper’ Jack.
Below are a few images of the gardens from last time I visited.
Of course, Warrior never wandered through these gardens but whenever I visit, I think about that horse and all the other animals that died in The Great War. For me, Mottistone is a very fitting place to remember the brave Warrior.
The War Horse is now available on the National Theatre’s new streaming service National Theatre at Home. The iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpugo, is available on demand for the first time since its premiere 13 years ago.
** The film was directed by Stephen Spielberg from a script by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis and starred Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emily Watson, Jeremy Irving, Peter Mullen, David Thewlis and Celine Buckens.
When I posted my Saturday Sculpture last week (the Memorial to the men of the Merchant Navy who left on the Arctic convoys from Cardiff in Wales) it set me thinking of one of the poets of the Second World War, Alun Ross, whose name seldom crops up in anthologies but whose poems I feel should be more widely known.
‘Where are the war poets’, the newspapers asked on the outbreak of the Second World War. Cyril Connolly answered them with a curt “Under your nose”. And indeed they were, although the poems they were writing were very different from those written in and of The Great War. The new style was nonchalent, laconic and cool, poetry that came from disillusion, a war spawned by what Auden called ‘the low dishonest decade’.
Alas Ross, who served on the minesweepers and then the destroyers that accompanied the Arctic convoys safely through the seas to Russia, wrote poems of immense power, less well known than they should be, but then the Arctic Convoy servicemen always said they were overlooked in the war. If there is anger in them, it would appear to be anger more against nature than the human enemy but unlike the more famous World War ll poets Keith Douglas and Alun Lewis, he is not laconic, nor is he nonchalant. He ended his service in Germany overseeing the break-up of the German fleet, de-nazification, the identifying of war criminals, and the Belsen Trials. We cab say that he saw the worst of everything that man could do to man.
Ross was a man of letters, a journalist, editor and publisher, and it is often said that from the detail in the poems, his journalistic roots are obvious: they paint a picture as vivid as a newspaper headline but his anger appears to be more against nature than the human enemy.
… The white faces float like refuse…. they clutch with fingers frozen into claws the lifebelts …. (Survivors) is a sentence that sear the mind, as does his longer poems describing the fears they lived with daily, the dark, heavy, seas, the perpetual cold and the fear of a torpedo attack leading to an icy grave.
On 30th December 1942 Ross was in a convoy when it was attacked by German surface raiders in an action known as the Battle of the Barents Sea. From this came the epic poem J.W.51B – Convoy, a poem that describes the horrifying minutes when Alan was trapped below decks on the destroyer HMS Onslow with only the dead bodies of his comrades for company: ‘…Heads floating like lilies/ Pulled under by the currents..’ Alan somehow survived that day. Two-hundreds and fifty of his shipmates did not. The experience haunted him until the day he died in 2001.
Here are a few lines from that poem.
‘A’ and ‘B’ Guns unable to fire, Radar destroyed, aerials ripped,
And, forward, the sea stripping The Mess decks, spilling over tables, Fire and water clinching like boxers As the ship listed, sprawling them. Tamblin, his earphones awry, like a laurel wreath Slipped on a drunken god, gargled to death In water with a noise of snoring.
To read more I would recommend his short collected poems, Open Sea (London Magazine Editions)
I think I am correct in saying that the Government has still to produce a medal for these brave men who risked so much in terrible conditions. Last I heard some years ago the Arctic Medal was still a dream in the heads of a few good men. There are only about 200 of these veterans left now. Surely it is time they were rewarded?
This striking Merchant Seaman’s Memorial in Cardiff Bay is in the form of a sleeping face fused with a ship’s hull. This was made by riveting plates of metal together, a traditional technique used in early iron and steel ship building. The sculptor Brian Fell, whose own father had been a merchant seaman, was commissioned to create the work in 1994 by Cardiff Bay Arts Trust, Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, Merchant Navy Memorial Committee and Cardiff County Council and it sits in Tiger Bay, Cardiff.
The ports of South Wales played a vital role in supplying coal from Welsh mines to fuel the world’s ships, especially warships and the allies were dependent on merchant vessels to transport troops, food, ammunition, raw materials and equipment. Shipping lanes ran around Pembrokeshire and around the island of Anglesey to get to and from the port of Liverpool and to access the Atlantic; within these lanes German U-boats targeted ships, sinking them with torpedoes and sea mines.
Over 150 vessels were sunk off the coast of Wales during the first World War alone.
Tales from the Vienna Woods by Johann Srauss was playing in the background as I worked and my thoughts drifted to the trip I’d had a few years ago through that lovely green space outside Vienna, designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The Woods are not as portrayed in the two films I’ve seen: rather than trees and birdsong, it is more like rolling lawns and parkland, but it is, indisputably green, and I know there are copses or woods around if I’d had more time to explore.
If you are not self-driving, the tours can be recommended. The Vienna Woods tour includes visits to Heiligernkreuz Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded in the 12th century, and Mayerling Hunting Lodge where Crown Prince Rudolph committed joint suicide with his fiancee. These are followed by a choice of the picturesque town of Baden, or a visit to Seegrotte, the largest underground lake in Europe.
I opted for the latter, knowing only that it was a lake so big that the trip actually incorporated a cruise on its waters. The lake is in Hinterbrühl, a 6,000-year-old town a mere 27 kl from the centre of Vienna and we were told that during WWll the Nazis built fighter planes there in the old underground gypsum mine that dates back to 1848.
And what a contrast to the magic of the Vienna Woods that was.
In a blasting accident in 1912, miners accidentally broke through some rock on the lower level (of 3) and 20 million litres of water flooded in creating the lake. The mine was then closed and forgotten about until sometime in the 1930’s when the huge lake, 66,240 square foot and four feet deep on the lower floor of the mine was re-discovered and opened as a tourist attraction.
We entered the mine through a 230m narrow, brick-lined passage and from there into a small room where our guide pointed out the broken fuselage of a jet fighter along the side of a wall: this was the HE162, the first jet fighter developed by the Nazis towards the end of the war – and the one Hitler thought would win it for him.
When the HeinkelWerke took over in 1944 and began manufacuring, they used labour from the nearby sub-camp of the Mauthausen concentration camp. From this camp 1800 slave laborers, primarily from Poland and Russia, were drafted in to build a secret underground factory in the mine. After pumping the water out of the lower floor the slave labourers, along with 300 other skilled workers, began producing fuselages for the He-162 fighter jet.
During late autumn 1944 and spring 1945, they built sub-assemblies and BMW 003 turbojet engines for the He162 – the People’s Fighter (Volksjäger) – an extremely fast plane, cheap enough to be discarded if it suffered any damage. Other factories were also making parts for the jet, sending them to Hinterbruhl for final assembly and onward shipment to airbases.
I wondered how many underground factories the Nazis had during WWll because this one, Seegrotte, reminded me very much of the one on the Channel Island of Jersey which I’d visited a few years ago, right down to the misuse of the prisoners working there.
It wasn’t all about the fuselage factory though: we learned something about the original miners and their work in the 19th century. The original railway tracks on which the horse-drawn wagons moved the goods, still run along the floor. We were introduced to the life of the miners as the guide pointed out the niches in the walls displaying models of the horses, artifacts and tools which gave an idea of the mining techniques and of the life they led in those days.
We passed stables that once housed up to 25 horses, horses intentionally blinded before they worked the mines to make them easier to control in the dark bowels of the earth. The shock of the blinding of the horses was followed by tales of more brutality. Of the more than 2,000 slave labourers and others from nearby concentration camps who worked in these damp, dark caves, only a few survived.
From further research carried out on my return home and some information I gleaned at the Third Man Museum in Vienna I learned that in the last months of the war, the remaining inmates were forced on a 200 km-long march to Mauthausen concentration camp. Many of these were Austrian Jewish citizens and 51 of them were killed by the SS with gasoline injections before the march began. Few of the remainder survived.
The 18th century miners had a particular devotion to St. Barbara and we were shown a large room with candles and a religious icon, one of several Catholic shrines to the saint within the mine. The Vienna Boys Choir occasionally sings there and apparently up to 2,000 people attend the concert (by coincidence about the same number as that of the prisoners who worked in the mine). A monument honouring the massacred men was erected in 1998 and has a place near the Saint Barbara shrine. The Holocaust Memorial on the former site of the concentration camp marks the site of the mass grave of these 51 slave labourers executed by the Nazis.*
I almost forgot. The main reason for visiting this cave, the Seegrotte, was to take the trip on the lake on which was anchored the golden dragon boat used in the 1993 “Three Musketeers” movie which was shot here. We took the 20 minute glide across the Lake (but not in the Three Musketeers boat much to the disappointment of one little boy) lit by the soft glow of the cave lamps as the guide pointed out the wall through which the water had come back in 1912, and answered a few innocuous questions. The lake is placid and pure and we drifted in and out of ‘rooms’, skirting overhanging roofs, lulled by the silence and the magic that caves and water always produce.
The stories I’d just learned took something away from the trip. I think it’s probably an age thing as no one else seemed at all put out by it. Although it was enjoyable, I just felt it was a long way away from Tales from the Vienna Woods birdsong and waltzes. It certainly dispelled the sweetness of the Strudl and Strauss I’d been indulging in over the past three days.
Postscript: The mine closed in Spring 1945 by which time the Nazi prison workers had produced 198 fuselages which had been sent to the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat to be assembled. As WW2 came to an end, the Nazis tried to destroy the entire underground factory but they only managed to destroy the water removal pumps. Without the water being pumped out the mine quickly flooded again.
In Spring 1949, it reopened to the public as Seegrotte, the boat trips started then and continue to this day as a major attraction in the Vienna Woods.
* The WW2 holocaust memorial is located on Johannesstrasse, a few blocks from the Seegrotte.
And now, for something completely different (thank you Monty Python).
(this was still in my Drafts folder so I’m re-posting it as I’m unsure what is happening. Another mix-up with Blocks?)
Commissioned by the French government on the 60th Anniversary of WWll and erected in 2004 as a monument to the Americans who helped liberate France, this moving sculpture stands at the centre of Omaha Beach.
The beach today is an place of calm and tranquillity but 76 years ago it was an inferno of noise, smoke and slaughter. Here, along a five-mile stretch of shoreline, the men of the American 1st and 29th Divisions, caught off-guard as they had not expected to meet such opposition, battled their way through fierce German defences.
Thousands of Allied troops were killed in the D-Day battle of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, but it was perhaps the single greatest turning point of World War II.t.
The underground memorial site at Arras, the Wellington Quarry – Carrière Wellington – should be high on the list of things to see when visiting the historic town in northern France.
Most people are familiar with the Somme Battles, Passchendaele and Ypres, but fewer are aware of the sacrifices that were made at Arras: France alone lost 30,000 men. A visit to The Wellington Quarry, which is in the middle of the old city of Arras, reveals a little-known story of World War I and is a good place from which to try and understand the horrors of World War I.
First, a little bit of history to set the scene.
The battles of Verdun which involved the French, and the battles of the Somme which involved the British and Commonwealth in 1916 had been disasters with terrible loss of life. Arras was strategic to the Allies and, uniquely in World War 1, was under British command from 1916-1918, but was under continual bombardment from German troops. To create a new offensive on the Vimy-Arras front, the Allied High Command decided to tunnel through the chalk quarries under Arras which had been dug out centuries before to provide building material for the town. The plan was to construct a sort of barracks, a series of rooms and passages in which 24,000 Allied troops could hide in readiness for the planned attack and for the tunnels to go right to the edge of the enemy’s front line which would allow them to burst out and surprise them.
The Wellington Quarry Museum tells this story of this quarrying, the lives of the townspeople and the troops, and the lead up to the battle of Arras on April 9th, 1917 and a walk through the tunnels lets you experience something of what it was like to live in these depths for two years.
In March 1916 the first of the skilled men required for this job arrived on the Western Front – 500 miners of the New Zealand Tunnelling Company, mostly Maori and Pacific Islanders, gold miners from Waihi and Karangahake, coal miners from the South Island and labourers from the Railways. Discouraged from enlisting due to the essential nature of their industry, they were now plunged right into the thick of it, working alongside experienced miners of the Royal Engineer tunnelling company, miners from the Yorkshire mines and tunnellers who had worked to dig out the London Underground.
The first task was to create primitive underground living-quarters, and with superhuman effort they dug 80 metres per day to construct two interlinking labyrinths. They worked only with pick axes and shovels as the Germans were just above them so no explosives could be used . Conditions were primitive and dangerous and although the temperature was a regular 11 degrees, it was continually damp: there were many deaths, many injuries.
By April 1917 they had created a working underground city with running water, lighting, kitchens and latrines: a rail system and a hospital were up and running and space for 20,000 soldiers was found even if it was cramped. Completed in less than six months 25 kms of tunnels eventually accommodated 24,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who, as with the battlefields above ground, gave their sectors the names of their home towns. For the British it was London, Liverpool and Manchester, for the New Zealanders it was Wellington, Nelson and Blenheim. Nowadays, Wellington is the only one of the quarries that can be visited, the others now mostly lost or covered over by buildings and car parks.
In dim light, a lift takes you 20 metres underground, during which the guide starts the extraordinary story of the Wellington Quarry tunnellers against a recorded background of men talking, pick axes hitting stone and the occasional explosion. In breaks in the tunnels small screens pop out with black and white images of soldiers working or at ease and disappear just as quickly.
You’re told about the one bucket of water to a dozen men. You feel the presence of the soldiers, and you hear voices. “Bonjour Tommy” says a Frenchman against footage of civilians and soldiers chatting in the streets. You hear letters written home, and poems from the war poets, like Siegfried Sassoon’s The General.
“Good morning. Good morning” the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ‘em dead,
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
“He’s a cheery old card”, grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack
. . . . . . .
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.
Artefacts left behind by the soldiers are on display, helmets, dog tags, bottles, boots, electrical fittings, railway carts, bullets. Pictures scratched in the chalk of the walls are pointed out, names of sweethearts, and humourous signs like “Wanted, Housekeeper”.
You are almost lulled into a false sense of normality as you listen to the sounds of men talking and laughing. Then you reach the end and your guide points to where the exits were dynamited to enable the men to go up the sloping passageway that led to the light, over the top and into battle at 05.30 on the morning of 9th April, 1917. It was snowing and deathly cold when the order was given to burst out of the quarries. It was Easter Monday.
24,000 men erupted from the earth: initially the assault was a success. The Canadians seized Vimy Ridge; Monchy-le-Preux was taken; the soldiers of Australia, Britain and the Commonwealth fought hard and the Germans, taken by surprise, were pushed back 11 km. But then the Allied troops, on orders from above, were told to hold back, during which time the Germans, who had retreated, re-formed and called up re-inforcements. Every day, for two months after that, 4,000 commonwealth soldiers died, before the offensive was eventually called of.
The film of the battle (which those in charge considered a success by the standards of the time) can be seen upstairs as you exit.
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 51 26 95
Entrance adult 6.90 euros, child under 18 years 3.20 euros
Open Daily 10am-12:30pm, 1:30-6pm
Closed Jan 1st, Jan 4th-29th, 2016, Dec 25th, 2016
I read in the news that Theresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain, is to travel to France to lay a wreath on the graves of two young British soldiers who were killed during World War 1. One of them was the first man to die in that ‘war to end all wars’ and the other was the last man to die. It reminded me that I had visited Saint-Symphorien cemetery where they are buried, a couple of years ago and I thought I would re-post my original piece but to my surprise either I hadn’t posted anything about that particular battlefield or I had somehow deleted it.
However, it is still in my mind now so I thought I would just put up a few photographs of the cemetery because it is so different from all the others in France, being in woodland, and having a more peaceful appearance. It is also the only cemetery, I believe, in which both British and German soldiers are buried together. My visit to Ypres last year was very different. There massive cemeteries like Tyne Cot just filled one with a deep, deep sadness as the ranks upon ranks of white gravestones spreading across the fields could not but remind one of the carnage of that war.
First though, the gravestone of the young James Parr of the Middlesex Regiment who was the first man to die, on the 21st August 1914.
And the gravestone of Private George Edwin Ellison of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers who was killed on the outskirts of Mons at 9.30 a.m. just 90 minutes before the Armistice came into force.
And just to finish on, not far from here is the spot where the first shot was fired in that war.
And the steely grey canal over which many battles were fought in this area.
I didn’t imagine it would be so difficult to write about my walk on the Ypres Salient in Belgium, as I followed the course of the World War l battle of 1917 but it’s impossible to write about the horrors of the 3rd Battle of Ypres (also known as Passchendaele) without including great chunks of history to explain just why we were walking there, and a blog is no place for a history essay. That being the case, I have to forget my idea of doing a Monday walk for Jo and just add a few photos with connecting text. A few historical notes will be appended at the end of the blog for those who want to read them.
First though, a few details.
During the course of the war, Ypres was all but obliterated by artillery fire. At the end of what we now call The Great War, it lay in ruins, only a handful of buildings left standing. First-time visitors to Ypres find it hard to believe that this magnificent town with its enormous square surrounded by medieval and Renaissance buildings was completely flattened by 1918. Virtually the whole of the town you see today was reconstructed from scratch, stone by stone, brick by brick during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Rubble that could be incorporated into the buildings was collected, cleaned and re-used and the planners, by referring to the medieval sketches and diagrams that had survived, were able to painstakingly rebuild the squares, streets and beautiful buildings of this ancient Flemish town.
Throughout the town, you will see bronze plaques bearing the outline of the Cloth Hall, the Cathedral and the Menin Gate at street corners. These are the signposts for the 5.5km provincial Heritage Footpath, the most complete footpath in the Ypres inner city.
Ypres had been fortified since about the 10th century and the Ypres ramparts are the best preserved in the country. The town originated on the banks of the Ieperlee and some ten centuries ago it was contained within little more than an earth wall and some moats, parts of which, dating from 1385, still survive. Later, stone walls and towers were added and later still, under occupation by the Habsburgs and then the French in the 17th and 18th centuries, the walls were strengthened, and bastions, advanced redoubts and more moats were added. The Lille Gate is the only city gate left out of the many that existed in the past.
The Ypres Ramparts are wide: strolling them in autumn is delightful as the falling leaves cushion the feet of the walker. The signposted route is 2.6 km long and meanders past lakes and ponds (the remains of the moat), interesting statuary, and through the Lille Gate into a small W.W.l military cemetery filled with the upright white headstones erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a sight all too familiar to visitors to France and Belgium. The municipal museum is located not far from the gate. Along the route, 23 panels provide information on the various points of Vauban’s ramparts.
There are 198 soldiers buried here, among them the graves of six New Zealand troops who were killed simultaneously by the same shell: their graves are now symbolically grouped together.
There follows some photographs I took on this walk which ended at the back of the Menin Gate, in some ways more beautiful than the gate whose picture we are familiar with at which buglers from the local Fire Brigade play the Last Post every night at 8 p.m. This custom has continued since 1928 when it was first inaugurated, save for 4 years during World War ll when the German occupation prevented it. This year being an Anniversary Year it attracts a few hundred people every night but sometimes there are just a few onlookers, yet the volunteer buglers nightly continue their tribute to the fallen.
A. Engraved on The Menin Gate Memorial are the names of over 54,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Forces who died in the Ypres Salient before 16th August 1917 and who have no known grave. Tyne Cot has 35,000 names and there are 75,000 engraved on the Thiepval Memorial.
B.Menin Gate Last Post: At 7.30pm the police arrive and all traffic is stopped from driving through the Menin Gate until 8.30pm. For one hour the noise of traffic ceases. A stillness descends and the crowd is hushed.
7.55pm: Buglers of the local volunteer Fire Brigade arrive and stand ready at the eastern entrance of the Menin Gate Memorial. They then step into the roadway under the Memorial arch facing towards the town. The Last Post is played.
C. Of the battles, the largest and most costly in terms of human suffering was the Third Battle of Ypres (31 July to 6 November 1917, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele), in which the British, Canadian, ANZAC, and French forces recaptured the Passchendaele Ridge east of the city at a terrible cost of lives. It had been a battle across muddy, swampy fields taken and lost, then lost and taken again. After months of fighting only a few miles of ground had been won by the Allied forces at a cost of nearly half a million casualties on all sides.
D. The defence of Ypres was essential for the Allied forces as the town was a strategic point blocking the route of the Imperial German Army to the Belgian and French coastal ports (the ‘race to the sea’). Thousands of Allied troops died in the rubble of its buildings, the shattered farmland around it and in the fields and meadows that had been deliberately flooded by the Belgian King to try and prevent the enemy from gaining a foothold. Both sides fought ferocious battles and lived in inhuman conditions to maintain possession. The Allied losses were horrendous but thousands of German lives were also lost on the battlefields around Ypres during their four years of offensive and defensive battles.
I thought my first post after my trip to Belgium last week would be about my walks around the battlefields of Ypres, but my mind is so full of the experience of seeing R.C. Sherriff’s play Journey’s End, performed in an Ammunition Dump in that Belgium city, that I want to talk about that instead.
This particular run of the play finishes on November 12th, so I urge anyone in that area or anyone who can reach it easily, to book quickly to see the play (details below).
Journey’s End is the only drama about the First World War written by a playwright who actually fought in the war.
Exactly one hundred years ago, Sherriff fought at Passchendaele in the 3rd Battle of Ypres and approximately 90 years since the play was first staged in London (with Laurence Olivier in the lead) it is being staged by the UK based MESH Theatre Co. in an old restored ammunition dump with 3-metre thick walls made to resemble the dugout in which the play is set, in Ypres, the town that was razed to the ground and re-built.
The action takes place over 4 days prior to the disastrous battle of St. Quentin and deals with the physical and mental ordeals of trench warfare experienced by a group of British officers during the run-up to the battle, the changes wrought by the war on one officer in particular (an alcoholic at just 21 years old, a causal effect of the war) and the effects of shell-shock on another. Only a few forward-looking medics took much notice at that time of what we would now call PTSD but which then was often considered cowardice, or if you were lucky, shell shock (after being named such in 1915).
The ‘Theatre’ is accessed through a couple of hessian sacks serving as a doorway to the dug-out, the setting is atmospheric, lighting restricted to a few candles and two or three oil-lamps which barely illuminate the smokey trench. Seating is limited to about 80 seats which surround a centre space on which the action takes place, the acting is powerful and emotional and being immersed in the atmosphere of the trench makes for a very moving experience.
The current run extends to November 12th with tickets at €15. Matinees 3.00 Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with evening performances at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the performance running just over 2 hours.
If you don’t manage to see it this year, make a note in your diary that the company will be performing it again in 2018, the centenary of the end of the Great War, at Thiepval, France from 18th September – 8th October and at Ypres, Belgium from 10th October to 12th November.