Journey’s End Preview at RAF Halton
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 ofsoldiers 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 DeBeaujeu 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.