WW1 Remembered Through Powerful Words And Music

The Great War experiences of a Dorset soldier will be told through songs and stories in Shaftesbury on Saturday.

Folk group Poachers Moon are in town to perform their ‘Poppies Red And Cornflowers Blue’ show. The audience at St Peter’s Church is set to enjoy the last-ever production of the show, which has been performed eighteen times across the region.

It was written by Dorset-based singer-songwriter John Anderson and focuses on a young man from the county. “The character that I’ve decided to follow is William Cotterell, who came from Corfe Castle. He enlisted and was sent for training in Wiltshire. He was killed at the Battle of the Somme,” said John.

John has written songs to reflect the battle in 1916, regarded as one of the bloodiest of the conflict. “We focus mainly on the Somme. That was such a terrible thing, with 19,000 British soldiers being killed on the first day. It was a shocking event.”

John expects the audience to display a full range of emotions as the story unfolds. “We can make people smile and we always see people wiping their eyes, as there are some very sad pieces of music. The lyrics are very moving. There are some bits where people can have a snigger, too. There are letters, which were sent home, and some true stories which we intertwine with each song.”

Sadly the show tour was put on hold for a time following the death of one of the group’s performers. “In the production we have a guy dressed as a soldier, in a trench. He narrates. Our original soldier had a massive heart attack and died. We took a year out, which we thought was a respectful time, before we got another person in to take that part on,” said John.

The show starts at 7.30pm on Saturday, 10th November at St Peter’s Church. You can buy a ticket from the Town Hall or reserve one by ringing 852420. They are £9 or £8 if you are entitled to a concession. You can also buy tickets on the door. Shaftesbury WI will sell homemade cakes and serve teas and coffees during the interval.

Shaftesbury Town Council is donating any profit from tickets sales to the Rifles Benevolent Trust.