Created from the taped memories of New Bradwell resident Hawtin Mundy (left), the show Days of Pride (1981) focused on the Great War of 1914-18. The thrill of joining up to serve your country, the horror of the battlefields, the helplessness of a prisoner of war and the poignancy of going back home – all come alive not only in the songs created for the show, but also in the books and tapes inspired by Hawtin’s irrepressible story-telling, in his published memoirs I’ll Tell You What Happened and No Heroes No Cowards (available from www.livingarchive.org.uk)
The song Back Home Again was written by Rod Hall at the time of the Falklands War and therefore had much resonance for contemporary audiences. It focuses on Hawtin Mundy’s return home from the Great War, the second time he was wounded; it also echoes both the relief of being back in ‘Blighty’ and the memories that refused to go away.
Hawtin came to the last performance of Days of Pride shortly before he died. Blind and frail, he was helped onto the stage at the final curtain, and in a hushed auditorium, added his own inimitable comment on humanity: ‘Black, white, brown, yellow, we’re all the same. We should all try to live together… And I hope you’ll all buy my book!’
I was on the Somme for less than a month when I got wounded again. The Germans made a big attack in the night and put a hell of a barrage down on us. During the barrage I got hit in the arm and a piece smashed me rifle and when the officer come up to me I said, ‘Sir, I’m hit in the arm again.’
‘Well,’ he says, ‘all the wires are down, take a message back to the signallers and tell them that the Germans have broken through on the right, but we’re holding all right here. Take that message back on your way back to the dressing station in the next line of trenches.’
After I got to the signallers and told them, I wandered back and got to where the MO was in a big dug-out where they took the casualties before they cleared them further back.
Old Fatty Odell was in there then, of all things, as a stretcher bearer! Ooh blimey, old Fatty!
When I got in there he said, ‘Ooh hell – what you again?’
‘Yeh,’ I said, ‘I got it again!’
‘Ooh,’ he said, ‘you lucky b…..r! Back home again?’
‘Yeh,’ I said, ‘somebody’s got to look after your gals at home!’
(Hawtin Mundy, LAMK 1980)
Images and material from LAMK archive. The song is featured on the Living Archive Band’s album All That’s Changed Vol 1 (LAMK)