When the Men Marched Away

by Michael Ford last modified 11 Apr, 2018 11:54 AM

Students at St Osmund’s in Dorchester stage spectacular World War One Drama

When the Men Marched Away

The Recruitment Scene

After 18 months of researching, planning and rehearsing, St Osmund’s Middle School recently staged a spectacular and moving WW1 drama, ‘When the Men Marched Away’, in Dorchester.

The production, staged during Holy Week at Thomas Hardye School in the town, featured poignant stories of real people from Dorchester as a tribute to their bravery, with a number of relatives present in the audience. This emotional connection made the production unique, and profoundly affected many who went to the show.

Beginning with the bustling prosperity of Dorchester in 1914, the action moved to the trenches, before returning to Dorchester, now complete with a Prisoner of War camp and hospital.

When the Men Marched Away- Trench Scene

Replica rifles and uniforms, loaned from Bovington Tank Museum, added authenticity to the scenes, along with contemporary poems written by Thomas Hardy.

Local historians Chris Copson from the Military Keep Museum, and Brian Bates, who has written several books about Dorchester in the Great War, advised on many details.

When the Men Marched Away- Nurses

Brian Bates said, “After researching and writing about the characters I grew to know them quite intimately, but the depiction of the play brought them even closer. I must admit I did have a chill going down my spine on more than one occasion.”

Staff Governor Caroline Pugh said, “The cast of over a hundred acted their parts with great enthusiasm and the original songs, written by the students themselves, really brought the scenes to life.

When the Men Marched Away- PoW Scene

“The whole project has been an exciting journey, a piece of living history, as pupils and staff identified closely with the real people and situations that happened here in Dorchester during WW1. They hope that, in the lead up to the centenary of the Armistice later this year, this production will be a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives.

“As one member of the audience said, this is the most significant thing to have happened in Dorchester to commemorate WW1.”

St Osmund’s Middle School said it was very grateful for the financial support of the Town Council and numerous organisations across the local community, as well as the creative input from Tim Laycock and Andy Worth, who enabled the school’s initial ideas to come to fruition.

www.stosmunds.dorset.sch.uk

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