Portsmouth Poetry event honours sacrifice of Passchendaele soldiers

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Portsmouth Poetry are collaborating with The New Theatre Royal Players and Dancers and the School of Creative Technology at the University of Portsmouth to create a performance in remembrance of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives at the 3rd Battle of Ypres — more commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele — 100 years ago.

The battle is infamous not only for the scale of casualties, but also for the mud. The campaign lasted from 31st July to 10th November 1917, and cost the lives of nearly half-a-million men, both allies and German, in some of the worst conditions experienced in World War One.

Before the infantry attack, British artillery fired four-million shells on the German lines. Then, in the first three days of the attack, the area was saturated with the heaviest rain in thirty years, and the region effectively became a swamp.

The initial bombardment had destroyed the drainage system and created huge shell craters. The craters filled with water and the fields through which men should have advanced became impassable. Tanks got stuck. Men and horses drowned.

The performance, inspired by the works of Wilfred Owen and other WW1 writers, presents the human cost of Passchendaele through words, music, and images. The cast are joined by the ‘Recharge’ singing workshop from Portsmouth Guildhall.

The event, which forms part of the 2017 Portsmouth Festivities programme, takes place in Portsmouth Cathedral, and complements the exhibition They Called it Passchendaele created by Portsmouth Poetry, also showing at the cathedral during Festivities.

The performance, named The Angels Cry after the lyrics of Iron Maiden’s powerful song Passchendaele, is grant-aided by Arts Council England, and is also supported by Portsmouth Festivities, The New Theatre Royal, and Portsmouth Cathedral.

It takes place on Tuesday 20th June from 8:00pm

Tickets are £6.00, and can be booked via the Portsmouth Festivities box office on 02392 828 282, or on the Portsmouth Festivities website »