Behind the story of HeRo
As we gear up to our Senior Youth Theatre production of HeRo, we took time out to have a chat with Colonel Andy Taylor whose family stories feature in the production.
The story of HeRo has some stories from your own family history, how did you go about researching this?
“I have always been interested in history, especially local history and military history. As a boy I remember my parents, uncles and aunts talking about their service in the Forces during World War two, and my father, who had lived in Ledbury all his life, would speak to men he knew, and then give me their story: he was a prisoner of war of the Japanese, his ship was sunk from under him, he served in the Middle East, he was in the trenches in World War One, etc.
This all wetted my appetite and as I got older I took an interest and started researching using government sources, local newspapers, but more importantly speaking to the local people about their own and their family’s experiences. This of course included my own family as well! From talking to my family I discovered that my paternal Grandfather had served in the Herefordshire Regiment in World War One – all my interests had come together and I was hooked! I visited military archives and museums and interviewed old soldiers who had served in The Herefords during World War One”.
Is there any interesting date or event that you found out during the research into the lives of you family member/s during WW1
“There were family stories of my grandfather being accidently shot and being a POW in Germany – through research I was able to verify both of these as fact.
My grandfather had been a pre WW1 Bandsman in the Herefordshire Regiment. On mobilisation in 1914 the Bandsman took on additional duties as Officers’ batmen. After a route march in December 1914 the batmen were accommodated in a barn and set about cleaning their officers’ equipment – including their revolvers. Whilst it is unclear exactly what happened the result was that my Grandfather was shot in the chest. He was hospitalised and recovered fit for further service, but probably as a result of this incident did not go to Gallipoli with the Regiment, so perversely this accident may have saved his life!
The second story was that he had been taken pow by the Germans and posted as Missing presumed Killed and that my Grandmother was receiving a widow’s pension. I discovered that he was serving in France in March 1918 and was captured during the German Spring offensive. My Grandmother eventually received a postcard from him saying he was a pow and not wounded. She reported the receipt of this postcard to the authorities who said it was not sufficient evidence of him still being alive, and she therefore remained a ‘widow’ for several more weeks until official confirmation was received”!
Did you work with The Courtyard’s Senior Youth Theatre during this process? How did you find it?
“As curator of the Herefordshire Regimental Museum, and an ex Regular Soldier – I worked closely with the Youth Group, giving them an idea of what service in the Army is like, and the experiences of the First World War soldiers in particular. I was able to bring ‘stories’ to life by relating them to real people – showing photographs and using their own words. All of the Group were incredibly interested, were surprised at many aspects and asked searching and pertinent questions. I also found it most reassuring that the youngsters of today took such a keen interest and wanted to understand the details of life in the trenches, and on the home front and how the population endured this hardship and horror”.
To book your tickets for HeRo look online. The Senior Youth Theatre production runs from Thursday 16 – Saturday 18 July at The Courtyard.