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They Shall Not Grow Old


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Just watched this from BBC IPlayer (it's available for the next 4 weeks). If you have not seen it yet, this colour newsreel style film using actual movies from the First World War is an education. From the encouragement and bravado of joining up to fight, through the devil's cauldron conditions endured in the battlefields,  the meaningless loss of life through to bewilderment as to what it was all for, this is a very sobering film. The participants endured so much and came back to be met with high unemployment and in some cases being discriminated against for work "Ex-servicement need not apply". I have seen Schindlers List,  and at the end of the film nobody said a word as they were leaving the cinema such was the shock. They Shall Not Grow Old has the same effect. See it if you can. It disappeared for a few months from IPlayer so it's not always available. 



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I saw this when it was screened on Armistice Day. It really brings the reality of WWI home in a way that I have not seen before. My Grandfather spent his war driving horses in the Royal Artillery -51st Highland Division , Dundee Battery.  Fortunately he was quite badly wounded in action  and was sent back to Britain, where he met my Grandmother whilst recuperating.  Even then he was unable to walk properly due to shrapnel in his leg and he had contracted TB, so he wasn't sent back to the Army. When I asked him as a kid what it was like, he would always avoid talking about his experiences. 

An excellent, if harrowing, watch that I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't seen it.

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I recorded it too back in November and watched it later. It is an absolute masterpiece, harrowing but something I am glad I have seen. With a grandfather who went off to the Somme at the age of 17, I have always taken an interest in WW1. (WW2 also as my father fought in Burma.) The old black and white juddery shots slowed and in colour make it all far more real. Incredible piece of work. 

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