#AceBritishHistoryNews – September 01 – I have just concluded watching this amazing three part series about ‘ The Great War ‘ from the prospective of the people. Their point’s of view, I found both revealing and heart-warming. Yet it brought home the real story of the tragic loss and grief of their loved ones left behind.
The danger with a series based on wartime letters and diaries is that it risks slipping into the inconsequential – or comments about how frightful the zeppelins are. This series flirts with those dangers but rises above them, uncovering stories that are often moving but also throw light on how the First World War forced change on Edwardian society and unpicked social attitudes.
This episode’s stand-out story involves Claire Foy playing the wealthy daughter of a banking family, Helen Bentwich. She becomes fed up with genteel inactivity, signs up to work at a munitions factory and has her eyes opened about the conditions of working people.
Plus, two young lovers cope with the separation of war. One of them is played by James Norton, who played the demonic Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley. He’s much nicer here.
The third episode shifts the focus to a changing Britain and the lives of those left behind at home. Claire Foy plays Helen Bentwich, a clever young woman who seizes the chance to work in the arms factories at Woolwich Arsenal, before becoming appalled by the conditions there and joining a trade union.
Brian Cox is country vicar Andrew Clark, whose wry diary is marked by increasing sadness as more and more men leave his village for war, never to return.
Amy Morgan brings to life the story of Emily Chitticks, a servant girl who has fallen in love with Will Martin (James Norton), a soldier at a local barracks.
But soon the call will come for him to go to France. Olivia Colman narrates.
The fourth episode ends with peace and those coming home, yet it leaves some in tears – such as a father who loses his second son, just day’s before the fighting ends. The series left me musing over the real tragedy of war and some feelings that Britain had won, but the cost of people’s lives was immense.
Figures provided by the narrator were: 275,000 killed and a total of 750,000 wounded, some severely, a total of over a million people, seems a high price to pay for peace and freedom.
Maybe there could be a better way and l prayed never let there ever be another war, but of course just for a moment l forgot, their was World War 2. So did we win peace or just a lull in the fighting and really was it about freedom, peace or something else, time will tell.