The Prime Minister, comedians, soap stars, Hollywood actors and the cast of War Horse, are brought together in an extraordinary album of spoken word and music, marking the most haunting moments of World War One.
The unprecedented line-up, which includes Eastenders star Danny Dyer, Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean, Cold Feet star John Thomson, comedian Sarah Millican and broadcasters James Naughtie and Stephen Fry, will forge new links to the valour of the most courageous heroes of World War One.
Following months of painstaking research, The Royal British Legion and the Victoria Cross Trust also tracked down descendants of a group of Victoria Cross recipients, who join the celebrity line-up for a unique collection of recordings compiled to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the War in 1914.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron has recorded The Soldier by Rupert Brooke (see image) while Danny Dyer reads In Memoriam by Ewart Alan Mackintosh (see image). Cold Feet star John Thomson reads Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est (see image), Sarah Millican reads Amy Lowell’s haunting sonnet From One Who Stays, TV historian Dan Snow reads Owen’s Futility. Also featured are recordings of Radio 4’s Today programme presenter Jim Naughtie reading For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, Sean Bean reading Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen and Stephen Fry reading In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. 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.
It is, however, the contribution of the descendants of the World War One Victoria Cross heroes which 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 (see image), creating a priceless moment of audio history.
The album also features vintage music from the time, recorded by The Central Band of The Royal British Legion who recreated the sounds and atmosphere of classic tracks such as It’s a long way to Tipperary, Keep the home fires burning (sung by soprano Laura Wright) and 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.
Any donations, made by Decca from album proceeds, to The Royal British Legion, would go towards meeting the £230,000 spent every day by the Legion in helping and supporting present-day service personnel and their families.