A trip to France's World War I memorials and trenches with Journey's End Director David Grindley
We visited Lille, France with David Grindley, the director of World War I drama Journey’s End, to learn about the background and inspiration for this award-winning play which tells the story of life in the trenches.
David took us to some of the sites that played a key part in his research, including the Notre Dame de Lorette, which was the site of bitter fighting and is now the site of preserved trenches and the French National Memorial and cemetery containing almost 40,000 graves – half of them of unknown soldiers. We also went to the Loos Memorial, which lists 20,610 names of British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave who were killed in the area during and after the Battle of Loos and Vimy Ridge, a memorial site dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. At Vimy Ridge there is also a warren of preserved trenches, communication tunnels and craters.
To see some of the photographs from the trip just go to the Images & Videos section at the top right hand side of this page.
Journey’s End was written by R.C. Sheriff and is based on his own experience in the trenches. The story is set in 1917, St Quentin and follows 18 year-old 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh who has just arrived in the company, commanded by his former schoolboy friend, Captain Stanhope. There’s only three years between them, but a lifetime of experience separates the pair as Raleigh discovers that the man in army greens is much changed from the boy he left behind in cricketing whites.
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