Easter in the Trenches
This Easter saw men from the 1st Battalion the Royal Warwicks 1914-1918 living history group move into the trenches at park Hall Countryside Experience near Oswestry.
The first two who had travelled up from Portsmouth, arrived on Thursday afternoon and promptly bagged the underground HQ which had a pair of bunk beds already built in, this left the other 17 who arrived on Friday to sleep outside in the actual trenches as they strove to recreate some of the conditions from 1916.
From Friday to Sunday they lived as near to the lives of WWI trench soldiers as was possible, carried out trench drills, simulated gas attacks, weapons cleaning, sentry duty, and even a short Easter service by their resident Padre. Much to the alarm of the nearby crows they sporadically fired their Lee Enfield 303 rifles to keep the enemy at bay.
Meals were cooked using typical trench stoves, shelters were put up using tarpaulins and even in one case a WWI stretcher opened out across the trench to provide some minimum shelter.
Feedback from the 1200 plus visitors over the weekend was all positive, with many visitors coming back for a second look or to chat to the soldiers again.
Songs of Praise filmed on Saturday for their Somme special to be broadcast in late June, Radio Coventry and Radio Shropshire came and interviewed the soldiers and the event was publicised in the local press.
The best result from the weekend is that the partnership between the Trench Experience (Oswestry Town Museum and Park Hall Countryside Experience) and the living history group of the 1st Battalion the Royal Warwicks will be ongoing with the group already committed to returning for the Heritage Open Day Weekend in September and a number of work parties being planned between now and then.
Overall a fantastic innovative event for Oswestry and Shropshire.
By Mark Hignett