God’s Own Caught In No Man’s Land’

Prof Steve Davismoon, Head of Performing Arts, has created an orchestral work ‘God’s Own Caught In No Man’s Land’ to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Scored for full symphony orchestra, solo mezzo-soprano, actor/narrator, choir and electronic soundscape, the work – commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra – focuses on the tragic history of the Salford Pals in the lead up to the ‘Great Advance.’

Up to 1st July 1916 the 1st Salford Pals, because of their incredibly low casualty rate, were thought to be very lucky earning them the nickname ‘God’s Own.’ Their ‘luck’ ran out catastrophically in the early hours of 1st July 1916, when hundreds of them were cut down in ‘No Man’s Land.’

Prof Davismoon’s work captures poetry from Winifred Letts (a contemporary poet in Salford at the time and offering a sobering female perspective from ‘home’); front line recollections, letters to and from the front, it also includes many location recordings alongside the orchestral/choral/vocal and narration parts, whereby Prof Davismoon has captured recordings of many locations important to the story of the Salford Pals in an attempt to build an aural bridge between ourselves and the past:

God’s Own Caught In No Man’s Land is to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on midnight of Remembrance Sunday – it will be available for 30 days afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

Psychological aftermath of the Battle of the Somme

Professor Geoff Beattie reporting in the Belfast Telegraph provides a moving account of the 36th Ulster Division survivors’ stories. These were men who had fought in many of the great offensives, including the Somme, the Mons and the first and second battles of Ypres. These men would have witnessed unimaginable horrific scenes of war as well as being subjected to the psychological stresses of trench warfare.

The report describes how many of these survivors returned from the front suffering from ‘Shell Shock’ (What is now recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder). The treatments given to these men to try and cure their PTD symptoms were often barbaric. Many were subject to extreme electric shock treatments by unsympathetic practitioners. Professor Beattie reports that ‘A decade after the end of the Great War, 36% of the veterans receiving disability benefits from the British Government were psychological casualties of this industrialised war.’ To read the report in full visit the link below.

Date: 19/01/2016

Web link:

100 Years ago: Salford at War – Teaching Resources

Salford at War
Steve Illingworth (History PGCE Course Leader – Edge Hill) has developed some teaching resources to accompany the ‘100 Years ago: Salford at War’ exhibition which is currently on at Salford Museum. This pack uses material from the exhibition and invites young people to think more deeply about some of the issues involved. The pack can be used without visiting the actual exhibition but it can also be used to accompany a visit and help young people gain more insight as they view the resources on display.
The resources can be accessed at the following web link:

The Torch – Ongoing until 2019

The Torch is a collection of responses to the one hundredth anniversary of the First World War. It is a joint project of Edge Hill University’s English and History Department, and the staff and pupils of Ipswich School, led by Alexandra Davis.
Date: Ongoing until 2019
Web link:

Academic appears in Al Jazeera World War One series – 03/12/2014

Dr James Renton, Reader in History at Edge Hill University, appeared in an Al Jazeera series on the story of World War One from an Arab perspective: World War One Through Arab Eyes. Al Jazeera – Broadcast production.Source: Al Jazeera – Broadcast production
Date: 03/12/2014
Web link:

Balloon Debate – Colonel Sir Mark Sykes – 01/12/2014

In this video, Dr James Renton makes the case for Sir Mark Sykes. Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, 6th Baronet 1879 – 1919 was an English traveller, Conservative Party politician and diplomatic adviser, particularly with regard to the Middle East at the time of the First World War. He is associated with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, drawn up while the war was in progress, regarding the apportionment of postwar spheres of interest in the Ottoman Empire to Britain, France and Russia.

Location: Developing Historical Thinking Page on EH English and History Website
Date: Video uploaded to Youtube 01/12/2014
Web link:

Book Launch – Temporary Darkness: Edge Hill in World War One – 10/11/2014

Mark Flinn’s research in the Edge Hill archive has revealed insights into life at the institution during the 1914-18 war. A new illustrated booklet, Temporary Darkness, collects some of this material, including a first-person account by Edna Walker, a student who started at Edge Hill in 1915. At the launch Mark talked about his discoveries. Students’ Union Vice-President for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Codie Austin read from Miss Walker’s poignant and uplifting words.”Location: Edge Hill University
Date: 10/11/2014
Web link:

The Grand Duchess and her Tommies – 2014

Ann Ellis from English and Creative Writing tells the story of her Grandfather, Christopher Hall, who was injured serving in the Great War and sent to a military hospital in Harrogate. Whilst at Harrogate Christopher was cared for by the Grand Duchess George of Russia, a cousin of the King and related to the present Prince Philip.

The Grand Duchess George had been visiting Harrogate in 1914 when hostilities had broken out. Stranded and unable to return home to Russia the Grand Duchess set up a military hospital in the town which over the course of the war treated over 1,000 service men. The Grand Duchess went on to open two further hospitals and a convalescent home for serviceman who were too injured to return to the front. In 1915 she was awarded the British Red Cross for her efforts.

After treatment at the hospital in Harrogate, Ann’s grandfather returned to the front but he was not forgotten by the Grand Duchess. He later received a postcard from the Duchess with the following wishes.

Dear Hall

I enclose this photo I took of you all at Heatherdene. I hope that you are feeling quite well & fit & enjoying yourself. Heaps of good wishes from the
Grand Duchess George

The story of The Grand Duchess George and her Tommies was brought to life by the actor Edward Fox at the Harrogate International Festival in 2014.

Date: 2014
Web link:

‘Tommy’s Lot’- 2010

An original song written to commemorate those who died in the First World War by Dr Dominic Williams from English and Creative Writing. On this performance Dominic is joined by Des Friel and Chris Waldron. The song featured in a prize-winning performance in the international group competition at the Edinburgh Folk Festival. It is now widely performed and has been recorded by a couple of people on the folk scene – most notably Dick Miles who included it on his album ‘Cheating The Tide’

Date: Video uploaded to Youtube April 2010

‘Battlefield Boy’ – 2014

Dance performance piece devised and co-choreographed by Elisa Macauley and Debbie Milner, from the Department of Performing Arts, for 12? North Graduate Dance Company. (Based here at Edge Hill). The process of researching and devising the work began from focusing on the lives of young teenage boys who enlisted during the First World War. Drawing from soldiers’ poetry and text, the piece plays with the juxtaposition between childhood and their experiences as young soldiers. The work was commissioned by Falinge Park High School in Rochdale and was initially performed at The Imperial War Museum, North as part of Project Tommy in June 2014. This piece was subsequently selected to be part of the existing repertoire for 12? North’s Autumn Tour 2014 and has been performed in a number of theatres and schools in the North West.

Venue: Falinge Park High School in Rochdale, The Imperial War Museum North and performed across the NW.
Date: 2014
Web link: Falinge Park High School

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