The play called 'I Regret to Inform You' tells the story of the 11th Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment, and forms part of a project to create an archive for the Cambridgeshire Pals, the local men who enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment and suffered tragic losses at the Battle of the Somme, 1916.
The play, written by Cambridge-based author, Mike Levy and performed by Keystage Arts, is based on letters and records of those who served with the 11th Suffolks. The stage production charts the events leading up to the 1st July 1916, telling the dramatic story as the clock ticks towards the bloodiest battle in British history, including a remarkable story of 2nd Lt. Robert Quilter Gilson, a gentle soul of poetic nature and a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien.
The event will also feature talks from special guest speakers Phil Curme, 11th Suffolks historian, and writer and historian John Garth, followed by a screening of a short film featuring descendants of the soldiers and an overview of the Cambridgeshire Pals project findings.
The stage and screen event will take place on the evening of Thursday 8 December, 6pm - 9pm at The Maltings, Ely. The event is free, but seats must be reserved by contacting The Maltings, 01353 662633, [email protected].
Author, Mike Levy said: "It was a thrill to explore the archive of letters, diaries and memories collected throughout this project. The fact that these soldiers were from places so familiar and so close makes the whole tragic story of the Somme more powerful."
Cambridgeshire County Council's Acting Head of Service for Libraries and Archives, Jill Terrell said: "Nearly 200 local men lost their lives within minutes of the first shots fired on 1st July 1916. As part of our work to commemorate them, we would like to invite you to our stage and screen event, where you can learn about their sacrifice and the digital archive created to remember them."
The evening forms part of the Cambridgeshire Pals project. Cambridgeshire County Council secured over £36,000 in Heritage Lottery funding, in partnership with Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network (CCAN). The project has raised awareness of the Cambridgeshire men who enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment and suffered tragic losses. The project has involved local families and historians in researching and creating a digital archive to remember the men who fell at the Somme. The digital memorial is hosted on the website Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network.