This extract from the classic war poem In Parenthesis by David Jones is from Part 4 and deals with the journey up to the front at one of the Somme battles.This project addresses aspects of war and the impact it has on the men and their families, as well as being a personal journey. The work is Unfinished, like the lives of the many who were killed.
1-4 The first images reflect the emotions on the journey to the front. The monotone darkness interspersed with light. The video takes you along the road with the men, Initially filled with optimism for the battle ahead, with their Pals.
1. Into the Light
2. Road to glory
3. The Pals
5,6,7 Reality of war There is undoubtedly an element of a Holy War as there is with most wars. The single coloured image reflects on the barbed wire that was a major feature of trench warfare, it was designed to trap and ensnare the infantryman so that the snipers could kill them more easily. The wire in this shot resembles a crown of thorns, harking back to the beliefs that drove the men on.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man
5.Behold, I stand at the door
7.Prayer before dawn
8,9,10 The later are memories of their families, friends,
9. A Life
10. Into the Dark
11, 12 & 13 and lastly the families left at home and the medals that are all that is left as memories of the fallen.
11. Alf & Kath Godwins Wedding
David Jones and the Importance of Reading Work Aloud.
“This may seem blindingly obvious but a poem or part of a poem read aloud requires the audience to listen. Serious work thus transmitted requires attentive listening with the same degree of care as reading. Of course, it is very possible to do either of these things on a 'drive-by' basis, picking up on a number of facets but missing out on what might be going on.
Listening provides an additional aesthetic as to the sound of the work and a series of cues as to how a reading with the eyes should be done. Further, most of the fans of the poem that I know read aloud in their heads and occasionally read a section or whole poem out loud to get a better impression of how the assembled words work.”
Music – Gwahoddiad
The Author was in a Welsh regiment when he was at the Somme and the words reflect on many of the emotions the men going to the front may have experienced.
I hear thy gentle voice
Calling to me
To come and wash all my sins
In the river of Calvary.
Lord, here I am
At thy call,
Bleach my soul in the blood
Which flowed on Calvary.
It is Jesus who invites me
To receive with his saints
Faith, hope, pure love and peace
And every heavenly privilege.
It is Jesus who strengthens
Me in his work through grace;
He gives strength to my weak soul
To beat my hateful sins.
Glory ever for ordering
The reconciliation and the expurgation;
I will receive Jesus as I am
And sing about the blood.
This version sung by Treorchy Male Choir in 1973 in Welsh of course
The personal Journey
1 July 1916: The First Day of the Somme
Four Battalions of the Somerset Light Infantry took part in the 1916 Battles of the Somme. The 1st Battalion went over the top on the first day; 1 July 1916.
The Journey Back from the front to 2016
Many of the protagonists never made back from the front. My story is probably very similar to many others, and this piece can be considered a small opportunity to remember two ordinary people who went to war.
A number of war medals have been part of my life since childhood. These medals seem to have traveled with me as if attached to me. I never really gave them any thoughts other than knowing they were there. Almost lost I rediscovered them in a closed box full of other bits and pieces of my life, tucked away in the attic. No ribbons any more, I remember the ribbons and being told not to take them off the medals, I did, and now they are lost.
I had some vague recollection of being told whose they were 50 years ago but the memory had faded, one name was obviously a relative of my great aunt the other unknown. A little research through the family tree and some assistance from my mother I discovered who these medals belonged to.
Fittingly, as this is 2016 it would appear that they both fought in the Great War and one at least was at the Somme a hundred years ago.
Private Charles Edward Godwin started in the Somerset Light Infantry, who were one of the first into battle. He later died in action on the fields of France on 26th June 1918 aged 18 as a member of the Princess Charlotte of Wales's Regiment (Royal Berkshire), 5th Battalion. Probably too young to have enlisted for the Somme 2 years ealier although army rcords suggest he died at age 19..maybe like many others he lied about his age to join up.
Charles Edward Godwin was my great aunts brother in law, no photograph exists that I know of however I have included in the collection the wedding photo of my aunt, Uncle Alf undoubtedly looked a lot like his brother.
Lance Corporal Edward James Harrison was Charles Uncle, they also appear to have lived at the same address. Edward was in the Royal Marines Light infantry. He died in action 13th November 2016 at the Somme 5 days before the battle ended.
The journey of those medals back from the front has not been very glamorous, they have almost been forgotten. Perhaps this small flash of light is fitting for the journey back from the front.