Film of First World War tales of local courage screens in Diss
PUBLISHED: 17:08 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 29 March 2019
After 100 years you would think that all the stories and memories of those who fought or experienced the horrors of the First World War would, by now, be well known. But, as Suffolk film-maker Tim Curtis has discovered there are still stories to be told.
The latest from the director behind the atmospheric film Life on the Deben is Stanley’s War, a major drama-documentary film based on true stories of Suffolk’s First World War.
The film, which screens in Diss on April 3, tells the story of Suffolk men, from different backgrounds, who found themselves in action on the fields of France and were ultimately invalided out of the army.
In particular it recounts the true life-changing experiences at the Western Front of Stanley Banyard, a farm hand from Ramsholt and how he saved the lives of his comrades, lost in no-man’s land, using skills learnt as a boy from a Suffolk gamekeeper.
The film also portrays the The Great War experiences of the Pretty family, factory owners from Ipswich, including the forbidden romance between Major Frank Pretty, 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment and Edith Dempster (later Edith Pretty of Sutton Hoo fame). The film also depicts the tragic story of Lieut. Donald Pretty, 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment who was killed in action.
Mr Curtis said: “We spent weeks researching and looking for Suffolk soldiers memoirs and letters to base the film on. We visited records offices and museums and the Suffolk Regiment Museum in Bury St Edmunds, all to no avail.
“We then did have a stroke of luck when two Suffolk ladies, Jo Smellie and Judy Foulger doing their own research into the First World War, came up with the memoirs of Stanley Banyard.
“The memoirs were just what we were looking for – quite detailed with events and places and experiences of Stanley Banyard’s war, from start to finish.”
The screenplay was written by Jonathan Ruffle, creator of BBC Radio 4’s Tommies. As with Life on the Deben, John McCarthy provides the narrative for the documentary parts of the film and the film follows his emotional visit to the battlefields and cemeteries of Northern France.
Mr Curtis said: “Making a First World War documentary film with period drama scenes on a low budget and a very tight schedule was a huge challenge. All the locations, costumes and props had to be sourced and chosen with that period in mind.”
• Stanley’s War screens at Diss Corn Hall on April 3, 10.30am and 7.30pm, 01379 652241, disscornhall.co.uk