A unique and touching tribute has been held at Preston Cemetery, home to 324 First World War graves.Advertisement
In a bid to ensure those who lost their lives are not forgotten, a guided tour was given of the war graves – and a folk trio performed songs inspired by the era. The event concluded with a rendition of the Last Post played by Ben Jarvis from Leyland Band.
Acclaimed folk trio Harp And A Monkey performed songs from their album War Stories, which came out of a project with the Arts Council and the Western Front Association. It features field recordings and interviews with veterans, new songs and reworkings of traditional and contemporary songs from the time.
And it draws on forgotten aspects of the war, from the horror of being a postman delivering news of loved ones to the role of musicians on the battlefield.
Harp And A Monkey singer and raconteur Martin Purdy, a former UCLan student and internationally respected military historian, said: “It was very important to us that our show challenged some of the typical stereotypes and narratives of the war and came at it from a very different angle.”
“This is the first time that we have played in a cemetery – although it makes perfect sense. We always think of those rows of white Commonwealth War Graves’ headstones on foreign shores, but don’t give too much thought to the ones housed in our own communities.”
Read more: Preston pauses to remember the fallen on Remembrance Sunday
The Preston Cemetery tour started at the family grave of conscientious objector Joseph Garstang and ended at that of William Young, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroism in pulling a comrade to safety in France in 1915. He was buried in Preston Cemetery in 1916 following a civic funeral with full military honours, attended by thousands.
* Harp And A Monkey are due to play The Willows Folk Club, Kirkham, on December 14. More details at harpandamonkey.com