Journey's End Preview at RAF Halton

  |  Published: Mar 1st 2018

One of the producers of Journey’s End, Guy De Beaujeu, along withexecutive producer Steve Milne of British Film Company, came to RAF Halton on Wednesday 31 January to visit the training trenches built there during World War 1. This was to honour the men who fought on our behalf during that horrific war as described in their film interpretation of the famous story written by RC Sherriff and first performed as a play in 1928, a mere 10 years after the events described happened. What is now RAF Halton was a training camp for the British Army from 1914 to 1917 when it  became the main training unit for aircraft mechanics. It was explained that in this way the RAF grew out of the royal Engineers who were back on site this very week to map the complex for posterity.

The trenches used in the film were modern and built in East Anglia but the RAF Halton trenches were dug as training by and for soldiers of the time to learn how to live in such difficult circumstances.  The condition of the trenches showed how important it was to maintain them constantly, a point made in the film when a new company of soldiers took over a set of trenches at the front. The genuine practice trenches at RAF Halton show how rapidly trenches deteriorate without constant attention.

Later, the film was shown to a self-selecting group of recruits and staff at RAF Halton, remembering the centenary of this war and the upcoming centenary of the RAF. It is set in the build up to the German Spring offensive which took place in 1918. This features in the Wendover Remembers article for March 2018, click here, naming a local casualty. Everyone in the audience felt the pain of waiting. Guy De Beaujeu explained that the terror in waiting built up to a terrible psychological crescendo. One working title for the play had been "Waiting".  This interpretation of the story focussed on what was then called Shell Shock but is now known as PTSD. The Charity Combat Stress worked with the actors to ensure a realistic portrayal of the trauma of seasoned soldiers waiting to go into battle knowing what they were about to face.

Film poster
Staff and new recruits were privileged to see a preview of this film, honouring the troops who trained at Halton Camp 2014-2017, including digging training trenches.
The Producers
Guy de Beaujeu and Steve Milne, producers of Journeys End, survey the training trenches at what is now RAF Halton.
Non-restored trench
This is how the trenches look before restoration.
Restored trench
This is how the trenches look when restored.
Deterioration of a trench
Restored trench deteriorating again.
Entrance to a living quarters
Entrance to a living quarters where most of the action of the film takes place.
A WW1 Vickers gun
This gun is an exhibit from the Trenchard Museum at RAF Halton. It was water cooled so that it didn't overheat as it fired continuously, 350 rounds in a belt. Two runners were needed to bring up more rounds belts for continuous firing. This was for slaughter on an industrial scale. The audience at the preview were able to see the gun close up. No live rounds, of course.
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