Contents of the album
Included on the album are the following spoken word tracks:
- The Soldier by Rupert Brooke read by The Prime Minister, David Cameron
- In Memoriam by Ewart Alan Mackintosh read by Danny Dyer
- Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est read by Cold Feet star John Thomson
- Amy Lowell’s haunting sonnet From One Who Stays read by Sarah Millican
- Futility by Wilfred Owen read by TV historian Dan Snow
- For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon read by Radio 4's Today programme presenter Jim Naughtie
- Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen read by Sean Bean
- In Flanders Fields by John McCrae read by Stephen Fry
- In Flanders Fields by John McCrae read by descendants of Victoria Cross recipients (see below)
The readings are set to music, such as instrumental versions of Abide With Me, The Day Thou Gavest and I Vow to Thee, My Country.
Danny Dyer and John Thomson recording
And music includes tracks recorded by The Central Band of The Royal British Legion who recreated the sounds and atmosphere of classics such as
- It’s a long way to Tipperary
- Keep the home fires burning (sung by soprano Laura Wright)
- Pack up your troubles
Also featured is a bugle that was played on the battlefields of Belgium and France, and can be heard here on the 'Last Post' fanfare. The track Only Remembered from the stage version of War Horse was recorded especially for this album by the cast.
Descendants of VC recipients
The contribution of the descendants of the First World War Victoria Cross heroes forms the most moving centrepiece of the album. Recording engineers at Decca's studios carefully pieced together each of the 10 descendants voices to record a special version of John McCrae's In Flanders Fields. They have, in turn, each paid a personal tribute to their relative's heroism, creating a priceless moment of audio history.
Four of the VC Descendants (l-r: Colin McKenzie/Albert McKenzie VC, Ella Stockdale/Cecil Harold Sewell VC, Sarah Kellam/William John Symons VC, Victor Harbidge/Henry Arthur Cross VC)
Victor Harbige, 57 from Ashford, Kent – one of the VC descendants that contributed to the recording said: "It means so much to me and my family to be a part of this. It's brilliant that The Royal British Legion have given us this opportunity to tell our families' stories. We – as a family – are so proud of my Great Grandfather Arthur, but we have to remember that he was just one hero, there were millions more who took part in that awful war and each one of them is a hero too."
Victor, is the Great Grandson of Arthur Henry Cross VC. Lance Corporal Cross received the VC on 25 March 1918 in Ervillers, France when he volunteered to make a reconnaissance of two machine-guns which had been captured by the enemy. Heading out alone into no-mans-land, he came across the enemy trench. Armed only with a revolver, Lance Corporal Cross forced seven of the enemy to surrender and subsequently marched them back to the British lines forcing them to carry the captured guns, tripods and ammunition. Handing over the prisoners, Lance Corporal Cross collected a team of soldiers to man the re-captured guns which he immediately brought into action, by destroying a heavy counter-attack by the enemy.
Recalling his Great Grandfather’s account of the contact, Victor said: "I don’t remember an awful lot about my Great Grandfather, but I do remember him telling about how he won his medal, he said: 'Look. They nicked my guns and I wanted them back. Simple.'"