This year is the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War. To mark the occasion, Somewhere Else Writers are broadcasting ‘Beyond the Pale’, a play which centres on the effect of the War on ordinary people, both at the time of the conflict and the long shadow it cast over the rest of the twentieth century. The story is told chiefly through the medium of letters. Writer Iris Anne Lewis was inspired to write this play by the Great Western Railway War Memorial at Paddington station. The dominant feature of the memorial is a large bronze statue of a British First World War soldier dressed in battle gear, wearing a helmet, woollen scarf, and a greatcoat draped over his shoulders. The soldier is looking down, reading a letter from home.
Letters to and from the battle fields were an important part of the war effort. Some, of course, were official letters but many were personal and vital in maintaining morale. Up to 12 million letters a week were delivered to soldiers, many on the front line. it took two days for a letter to reach the front. Its journey began at a specially built sorting depot at Regent’s Park. By the end of the War two billion letters and 114 million parcels had passed through it.
‘Beyond the Pale’ will be broadcast on Corinium Radio at 4.30pm on Sunday 28th October. If you miss the broadcast it will be available on Corinium Radio’s ‘Listen Again’ feature and in the ‘Broadcasts’ section of this website.