Armistice 100: Emotional final showing of Far Far From Ypres

The war will be remembered this Sunday.
The war will be remembered this Sunday.

As the world looks to honour those lost in conflict, this weekend will also mark the final showing of the World War One remembrance play Far Far From Ypres.

Fiona Forbes, from Fife folk group Sangsters, has been involved in the show for around six years, and is preparing for the last showing at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Sunday.

She told the Press of how her involvement in the play led her to look deeper into the history of the war and the horrors it brought upon servicemen on all sides.

She has paid visits to battlefield sites and also Kirkcaldy’s twin town in Germany.

Fiona said: “It’s been a revelation, I think for all of us. It’s been extremely touching.

“We visited the Passchendaele area and the Somme, and from there down to Ingolstadt.

“It’s been a military town for centuries, and they have a WW1 museum.

“The most touching part was all the same things we see in photos of our own troops at the time. All the same frightened wee laddies’ faces, same age groups, same embroidered cards sent home to loved ones. Just different sides of the same horror.

“The average life expectancy for a young officer arriving at the front line was six weeks. It’s unbelievable. We lost a generation. We lost ordinary troops, officers, and nurses.

“When you look at the Highlands and Islands, there was a massive loss because nearly every able-bodied man in the Western Isles joined up, a lot of them into the navy.

“In all the British Commonwealth the highest proportion of loss per capita was Scots, and the Western Isles had the highest proportion of the Scots; they had a huge loss.

“You had the ‘pals regiments’, where you would get a whole workplace or a whole village signing up and all going to the front line and then all being killed at the same time.”

Fiona added that away from the front lines, there were also issues at home.

“My husband’s great grandad was a baker in Kirkcaldy and there were reserved occupations – they had to have people that could produce enough for the populace at home.

“He was effectively told to stay and do his job. And on more than one occasion he was given a white feather – that’s someone saying you’re too cowardly to enlist.”

Far Far From Ypres, a collection of songs and poems about the war will appear for one final time on Sunday, November 11 at the Usher Hall.

With the date in mind, Fiona added: “I think for the audience it’ll be quite emotional.”