That (photo) was taken when we was back on rest and we decided that we’d walk to some town, ooh, perhaps four, five six miles away so we set off and found a place where we could get a dinner. We had a dinner and decided we’d find a photographers and we’d go in and have our photographs taken. We got back in the dark at night…
(Sid Coles of Wolverton, LAMK 1981)
J Cunningham says of his song Rest and Relief: ‘Much of this was from documentary evidence, for example the place-names of the trenches - Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Hyde Park; Plugstreet Wood was soldiers’ nickname for the Belgian town of Ploegsteert; the ‘coal box’ was what they called a huge shell; and ‘Blighty’ was home in England. In singing versions the original ‘estaminet’ – the little French or Belgian bars – became ‘tavern or bar’ for better audience comprehension!’
When they came on leave they’d come and see you and talk about and say what hell it was… that trench life. ‘Cos they were in there days and weeks and weeks, in the same clothes and everything, all verminous and everything. When Alf used to come home he used to take off his things in the barn… He wouldn’t talk about it much. He used to say, ‘Auntie, it’s awful. It really is. It’s dreadful Auntie. Don’t talk about it’.
(Alice Gear, LAMK 1981)
‘It’s all over, good job it’s over’, that’s all they thought. And you come home, you’re all right, that’s the end.
(Frank Gillard, LAMK 1981)
Images and material from LAMK archive
The song currently features on a cassette tape in LAMK archive, but a fresh recording is planned for a new CD