My parents were of the wartime generation and as I was growing up we solemnly watched the Remembrance service on the television every year as a family. One year me or my sister said ‘do we have to watch this?’ in that bored, whiny teenage way; words that we instantly wanted to take back when we saw the impact like a physical blow, the hurt and grief on my mother’s face. She’d lost her first fiance and her brother to the war, my father two brothers.
So I think the way Chiswick churches have engaged with remembering the dead of the First World War is something to be proud of. I went to see My Darling Boy on Friday, written by Rev Martine Oborne and enacted by St Michael’s Players in St Michael’s Church, Elmwood Rd. She wrote it because she realised, preparing a Remembrance Sunday sermon five years ago, that we didn’t remember the men whose names were on the church memorial because we knew nothing about them.
Volunteers started researching their history and My Darling Boy weaves together several of their stories, written from their letters and their records. The stories are poignant; they were all so young, but the play, well written and well produced brought them close and made them real to us. It was gratifying to see that there were quite a few young people in the audience on Friday. It would be a great short play for youth drama groups. Maybe it should be required reading as part of the national curriculum.
Remembrance – Photograph Romaine Dennistoun
St Michael and All Angels have also researched their war dead quite extensively. Their stories include that of the only woman on their memorial and can be seen in a display in the church over the next few weeks.
There’s a talk tonight at Godolphin and Latymer school by Elisabeth Shipton about the women who fought on the frontline during the First World War. Details here.
Thanks to Romaine Dennistoun for the photographs from Sunday’s memorial service.