Play vs Film vs Novel

A new film version of R C Sherriff’s Journey’s End was released a couple of months ago and I was very keen to see it.

I saw the revival of the play in London’s West End back in 2011 and it remains one of the most profound experiences I have had in the theatre and so while I was very keen to see the new big screen version I was also a little nervous.

For once I needn’t have worried, in director Saul Dibb’s hand the claustrophobia, tension and fear came through wonderfully. While the action did leave the dugout, which it didn’t in the stage version I saw, this didn’t alter the feel of the film. You went on that journey with Stanhope, Osborne, Raleigh absolutely, from behind the lines to going over the top you were with the men completely. The claustrophobia, fear and futility all came through thanks to the incredible cinematography and music score.

Despite a pretty starry cast the actors very quickly became their characters and I didn’t notice any anachronisms at all. Some reviews have been sniffy about the comedy brought to the film with the character of Mason – the long-suffering cook/batman/soldier.  He has been called a pale imitation of Blackadder’s Baldrick which is absurd – the original material for Journey’s End was written in 1928 and so rather than Mason  it is of course Baldrick who is the copy.

The film added some background detail to Stanhope and Raleigh’s relationship which was new to me, both from seeing the play and then later reading the script. I did bristle slightly at this because it didn’t seem authentic – however the joke was completely on me…

I wasn’t aware that the 1928 play had been rewritten into a novel by Sherriff and Vernon Bartlett and this is where the details of Stanhope and Raleigh’s pre-war friendship, and the romance between Stanhope and Raleigh’s sister, are fleshed out. To be honest I am not sure that the film needed to make these things explicit – they were perfectly clear in the stage play but I’ll allow them some dramatic license!

All in all I found this to be a thoroughly overwhelming (in a good way) film. The immediacy and emotion of the play will always be my favourite way to experience Journey’s End but this is a film adaptation that hasn’t spoiled the original for me.

If you’d like to know more about RC Sherriff and Journey’s End then I recommend browsing through Roland Wales’ RC Sherriff…and more website. I am now saving up to see if I can make a trip to Belgium this autumn to see the MESH Theatre Company perform Journey’s End actually in Ypres.

In the meantime do try to catch this film on the big screen if you can, the DVD is due out in June.

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Images from the Archives

Tank Week 1918, Norwich.

This is just one of several hundred newly published original photographs, posters and notices connected with the First World War in Norfolk, which can be viewed at http://www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk.

In this photo we can see the huge crowds that turned out in 1918 to see a tank and hear the Right Hon. George Roberts M.P. address the crowd. You can read more about Norfolk’s Tank Weeks here.

War Diary April 2018

War Norfolk
Further Rationing and Conscription

 Meat rationing is introduced in the UK and conscription extended to those aged up to 51 and men living in Ireland

Fundraising Effort in Norwich

 A Tank named the “Nelson” visited Norwich raising money for the war effort. £400 000 was raised on the first day.

RAF Formed

 The army’s Royal Flying Corps is combined with the naval Royal Naval Air Service to create a separate service.

Butter Mountain

A glut of butter and margarine built up in Norfolk shops as Norfolk residents obtained their butter from farms, despite having registered with a shopkeeper.

Remembering Thomas Walter Doughty

With many thanks to the Wood Norton Remembers project for this post. As ever if you or your local history group has any research to share please do get in touch.

 Thomas Walter Doughty was born in 1892, the son of Thomas George and Anna Maria Doughty.  He was baptised on the 24th January 1892 in Wood Norton parish church.[1] (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: From the Baptisms Register, Wood Norton, 1892

Whilst the British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 do not appear to have survived for Thomas, there are some extant records that indicate that he served in two branches of the military – as a driver in the Army Service Corps (later the Royal Army Service Corps), and as a rifleman in the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Rifles (see Figure 2).  Thomas was serving with the Royal Irish Rifles when he was killed during the First Battles of the Somme in 1918.

Figure 2: Medal Roll Index Card for Thomas Walter Doughty, showing that he served in the ASC and the Royal Irish Rifles

The Royal Irish Rifles war diary[2] for March 1918 records that they were at Essigny, in northern France.  They had been involved in heavy bombardment at the beginning of the month which was followed by a quieter period with training.  The 17th March, St Patrick’s Day, was

… observed as a holiday.  1st and 2nd Battalions united at Mass by Revd. F. Gill D.S.O, M.C.; first time since 1854.  Football match in morning. 1st Battn. 2 goals. 2nd Bn. 1 goal. … Battalion sports in afternoon.

On the 20th March the men were working on the trenches in the Battle Zone and at Artemps.  The Battle HQ moved from the village to Battle Dugouts in the Quarries, as a German offensive was expected to start the next morning, according to information received from prisoners.  The offensive came at around 04.30am on the morning of the 21st March 1918, when the Germans launched operation Michael, with heavy bombardment near Saint-Quentin.  The aim was to confront what was perceived as a weakened British Expeditionary Force (BEF); outflank it, attack the lines of communication and cut off the supply lines from the channel ports, thus defeating the British and forcing a French armistice.[3]

On the 24th March, the Battalion was at Beaumont en Beine, and marched to Montelimont on Cugny-Villerselve Road and dug in.  A general engagement opened up and reinforcements approaching from the rear were badly shelled.  At 3.30pm the Battalion was practically surrounded and had to retire on Villerselve, where a defensive position north and west of the village was taken up.  The 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were seen to counter-attack, the enemy now approaching rapidly in large numbers.  On the 26th March further fighting took place at Erches, where the enemy approached the village, securing posts by the use of French uniforms whilst using the white flag to distract our soldiers, until it became necessary to warn our soldiers to fire on all fronts.  Fighting continued on and off until the end of March.  The war diary records that the Battalion covered 168.7 kilometres during the month, and that

During these operations the following casualties occurred: 31 O.R. killed, 248 wounded, 155 missing. 9 wounded and missing – a total of 439.

Following the fighting in March, Thomas’s parents presumably received a communication with the dreadful news that their son was missing in action.  They wrote to the Red Cross (as many families of missing soldiers did) to seek help in locating their son, and the index card for Thomas survives in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) records (see Figure 3).[4]

Figure 3: International Red Cross index card for Thomas Walter Doughty

The card records the date Thomas went missing, his regimental details, and his parents’ address.  It is stamped 14 AOUT 1918 (14th August 1918) on the reverse.  The enquiries made by the Red Cross are listed on the card (in August, September, October and November 1918), but each came with the response ‘Négatif envoyé’ – the soldier was not registered as a prisoner, so there was, therefore, a negative response.  The final communication with Thomas’s family was on the 27th February 1919 – ‘ne plus comm. prisonniers Rap’ (which may mean that there had been no further information received from repatriated prisoners).

Thomas, had, in fact, been killed in March 1918, and his Record of Soldiers Effects drawn up in September 1919 records ‘Death accepted 24.3.18’.[5]  An amount of £39 13s 2d was paid to his father, Thomas George Doughty in March 1920, which included a War Gratuity of £18.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Burial Return dated 3rd November 1919 records that Thomas’s body was interred in Bouchoir New British Cemetery (see Figure 4).[6]  The Burial Return lists individuals who have been recovered or exhumed from their original burial location and moved to a particular cemetery.  The return includes the original trench map grid reference, and indicates that Thomas had been buried in an unmarked grave; five out of the six men recorded on this return having been recovered from the same location.  Thomas’s body was identified by his identity disc, Army Service Corps badge and Royal Irish Rifles numerals. The body was recovered from trench map grid reference 66E Q4b 90.15, near Erches, where the Battalion had been involved in fighting on the 26th March 1918 (which possibly might indicate that although Thomas’s death was recorded as being on the 24th March 1918, he may have died two days later).

Figure 4: CWGC Burial Return, November 1919

Figure 5: Thomas Walter Doughty, Bouchoir New British Cemetery (reproduced by kind permission of The War Graves Photographic Project)

Further research into Thomas’s family reveals that his father, Thomas George Doughty was born in 1870 in Wood Norton, the son of Thomas and Martha Doughty.[7]  He married Anna Maria Waterson on the 9th January 1892 in Wood Norton parish church.[8]  In the 1911 census for Wood Norton, Thomas George is recorded as aged 40 and a farm labourer.  He died in 1943, aged 72, and is buried in Wood Norton – the Burial register notes that he was living in the Council Houses (in Church Road) at the time of his death.  Anna Maria Waterson was born on the 27th February 1874 and baptised on the 12th August 1877 in Stibbard parish church, the daughter of Mary Waterson.[9]  She died in 1945, aged 72, and is buried in Wood Norton.

The 1911 census reveals that of Thomas George and Anna Maria’s seven children, five had survived:

Name Born  Died
Thomas Walter 1892, in Wood Norton.

In the 1911 census, Thomas is aged 19, and a farm labourer.

24 March 1918; France, the Somme.
Rosalie Mabel 1897, in Wood Norton (baptised 2nd May 1897).[10]

In the 1911 census, Rosalie is aged 14, and at school.

Bessie Edith 1899, in Wood Norton (baptised 21st March 1900).[11]

In the 1911 census, Bessie is aged 12, and at school.

Bessie married Edgar Reynolds in 1924, and died in 1980, aged 80.[12]
Harold Charles 1902, in Wood Norton.[13]

In the 1911 census, Harold is aged 9, and at school.

1933, aged 31.  Harold is buried in Wood Norton.  The burial register transcript records that he was buried by Coroners Order following a fatal accident, and that he was living at 1 Council Houses.
Hilda Grace 1910, Wood Norton.[14]

In the 1911 census, Hilda is 10 months old.

Hilda married Thomas William Taylor on the 2nd April 1938, in Wood Norton.  She died in 1987, aged 76, and is buried in Wood Norton. The burial register transcript records she was living at 1 Council Houses.

 

We have been fortunate to be able to contact Thomas Doughty’s family, and they have kindly provided us with a photograph of his memorial plaque (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Thomas Walter Doughty’s Memorial Plaque (reproduced by kind permission of the Doughty family)

[1] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1892, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.75 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1892 (www.familysearch.org)

[2] 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles war diary for March 1918 (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[3]  Royal Irish website: Battle Honour St Quentin – German Spring Offensive 1918 (www.royal-irish.com/events/battle-honour-st-quentin-german-spring-offensive-1918); Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Michael)

[4] ICRC 1914-1918: Prisoners of the First World War ICRC Historical Archives (https://grandeguerre.icrc.org)

[5] Record of Soldier’s Effects (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[6] CWGC Concentration of Graves (Exhumation and Reburials) – Burial Return for T.W. Doughty  (www.cwgc.org)

[7] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1870, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.81 (www.free.bmd.org); 1871 Census, Wood Norton (p39) (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[8] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1892, Aylsham B Vol.4b, p.143 (www.freebmd.org); Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Marriages 1892 (p.97).

[9] Baptism Register, Stibbard, 1877 (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[10] FreeBMD, Quarter to June 1897, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.80 (www.freebmd.org); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1897 (www.familysearch.org)

[11] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1899, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.92 (www.freebmd.org); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1900 (www.familysearch.org)

[12] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1925, Mitford, Vol.4b, p.694 (www.freebmd.org); Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, Quarter to March 1980, Norwich Vol.10, p.1831 (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[13] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1902, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.82 (www.freebmd.org)

[14] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1910, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.71 (www.freebmd.org); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1900 (www.familysearch.org)

2018 Poppy Project Update

For various reasons there have been fewer posts going out on the blog over the last few months and we hope that is about to change and that we’ll be sharing more stories with you very soon.

In the meantime we’d like to say a huge

to everyone around the county who has been making and sending us poppies.

Behind the scenes we have been working on these and are starting to work out how they can be best displayed in the libraries around the county in November 2018.

Here are just a few (2215 to be precise) of the knitted poppies mounted on to bunting tape ready for display:

We also have lots of beautiful felt, plastic and paper poppies still to mount but this is an ongoing project and if you feel at all crafty please do swamp us with more – full details can be found here.

War Diary March 1918

War Norfolk
First 1918 Battle of Somme

 The Germans launch a strong offensive in France (Operation Michael) aimed at splitting the British and French lines. The British in particular suffer heavy casualties and begin a far reaching withdrawal. Fighting continues to 5 April.

 

Rationing Plan for Norwich Drawn Up

The Norwich Food Control Committee have adopted a scheme of rationing with regard to meat, butter and margarine and will be put into force on April 7th. It will then become impossible to obtain these goods for consumption without an individual card or an official order form in the case of caters and institutions.

Paris Shelled

Following their advance through the former Allied lines, the Germans use a long range railway gun to shell Paris. This continues to 15 August.

New Children’s Home for Orphans

With places especially reserved for children orphaned by the war, 40 boys are now in residence at Hook’s Hill House.

‘Shortacre’ will be the adjoining house for girls and will shortly be opened. Gifts of clothes, old or new are welcome.

War Diary February 1918

War Norfolk
British Voting Reforms

The Representation of the People Act receives Royal Assent, thus extending the right to vote to almost all British men as well as women aged over 30.

 

Local Celebrity Killed

It was reported that professional dancer, Mr Vernon Castle died in a flying accident on the 15 Feb 1918.

Rationing

Food rationing begins in London and the south of Britain.

Donation to Norwich Library

The Norwich Library Committee receives a map and a wax model of part of the Somme battlefields from Lieut.-Col. W. A. J. O’Mearea, C.M.G., whom during his stay in Norwich spent his leisure time making the model.