Monday, 20 June 2016

Remembering them ...... 100 years after the Battle of the Somme part 2 Heaton Park, living history groups and a concert

Now I like the way that seemingly unrelated bits of history come together.

Cap badge of Manchester Regiment
So here is a cap badge of the Manchester Regiment which I have chosen to sit beside the centenary events linked to the Battle of the Somme which will be going off in Heaton Park.

These are part of a bigger set of events across the city.*

Not that there is anything odd in that. Some of the City or Pals’ Battalions of the Manchester’s were based at Heaton Park during 1914 and 1915 and there was also a hospital there.

Added to which all eight participated in the Somme with some taking very heavy casualties.

But what marks the cap badge off as a little different is that it was sent to me by Paul Wright from New Zealand.

Paul is one of a growing number of historians and collectors who I am coming to know from around the world.

In the case of Paul it was after I had posted a series of stories about the men of the Canadian and ANZAC forces who are buried in Southern Cemetery.

1st City Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, Heaton Park, 1914
And as part of my own personal connection to the Somme I want to track all 26 of the men of the CEF and their Australian and New Zealand comrades.

Not all died during the Somme offensive but it will be chime in with the events in Southern Cemetery linked to that battle.

But Southern Cemetery is not the only place where events are occurring.

According to the official programme from the City Council there will be a “series of events ranging from drop in activities, exhibitions, scheduled talks and mini performances.

These will include performances from folk trio Harp and A Monkey, Threadbare Theatre, A Soldier’s Tale and the West Yorkshire Playhouse. “

The ‘talks in the tents’ will offer the opportunity to listen to  the “importance of animals, the development of artificial limbs, the Salford and Barnsley Pals, conscientious objectors, how the Commonwealth War Graves
Commission came into being and the ‘wild women’ of the First World War.

In addition to all this there will be “living history groups running a field kitchen, a Salvation Army unit and recreations of basic training with Manchester’s inside Heaton Hospital and life for nurses working at Casualty Clearing Stations.” The events stretch out over July 1 and 2.

Thomas Chorlton, died in 1916
There will also be a concert “Starting at 7.30pm in the evening, the concert features soldier’s songs from the time performed by a national children's choir, interwoven with archive film.

A dance piece inspired by the Pals Battalions will then be followed at approx. 8.30pm by the Hallé Orchestra, who will play several well known pieces linked to the First World War, including a piece by George Butterworth, a young English composer who died at the Somme.

The concert will also feature a range of letters, poems and diary entries depicting the lives of those affected by the Somme, including a specially commissioned poem read by author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay. It will finish at sundown at 9.45pm.

The events stretch out over July 1 and 2 and it suggested you allow 1-2 hours for your visit within the Experience Field. Food and drink will be available and you are welcome to bring a picnic. The park also has a café and other activities.

Tickets are available and details are online.**

Pictures; Manchester cap badge courtesy of Paul Wright, and 1st City Battalion in Heaton Park in 1914 and Thomas Chorlton killed in in 1916 from the collection of David Harrop

*Remembering them ...... 100 years after the Battle of the Somme,

** A National Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme Evening Concert,

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