A tribute in music, songs and words to all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Soldiers: Bruce Abbott, Nigel Brammar, Phil Brooker, Jon Dyer, Freddie Gare, Colin Greene, Nigel Hunter, Rob Johnson, Daniel Peacey
Wives, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters: Liz Caudle, Jess Clifford, Joy Howard, Jane Johnson, Jane Marriott, Tina Peacey, Hattie Smith, Jess Skelding, Sue Watkins, Polly Web-Hale, Ollie West, Anna Young
For the ordinary British soldier, who joined up to fight for King and Country and “to give the Kaiser a bloody nose”, the reality of war in the trenches was a terrifying experience. It was a war in which thousands of men could die in a single day and one of the ways soldiers coped with the traumas they endured was by singing.
Singing raised their morale and for a while they were able to forget the realities of their situation. They sang as they marched to and from the battlefields and in the trenches, singing the popular songs of the day – the ones sung in the music halls and pubs.
They changed the words to suit their situation, parodying with wit and humour. Many of the songs were based on hymn tunes because church parades were still held on Sundays, even at the Front, and the hymns would have been remembered from childhood. Soldiers being soldiers, the words were often bawdy and frequently vulgar but still amusing and helped to raise their spirits.
In devising “Lest We Forget”, I wanted to include as many of the well-known songs as possible but also some of the important literature which came out of the First World War – not only the wonderful poetry of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and many others – but also the letters and first-hand accounts of people like Harry Patch, the last British Tommy.
Although predominantly about the soldiers, we haven’t forgotten the ladies and we have included some scenes showing how the War affected the women at home. They played their part, taking on the work formerly undertaken by men, as well as becoming nurses, bus drivers and even miners. It was important for the women to help keep up the morale of the men at the front as much as possible by writing letters, knitting socks and scarves as well as sending food parcels.
“Lest We Forget” is the Leckhampton Players’ sincere tribute to the many, many thousands who laid down their lives in “the war to end all wars”.
We have tried to include the odd light-hearted note here and there in the programme, and we hope that you will join in the well-known songs and sing with gusto as the soldiers did over 100 years ago as they marched into battle and sheltered in their trenches.
I am indebted to so many people for their efforts in staging this production and I would like to express my sincere thanks to them. They know who they are.
Janice Keen, Director