The Arras Front opened up on April 9th 1917 and claimed more lives per day than even the Somme. Jack Harrison (Hull FC) and Tom Bryan (Castleford) had played Rugby League before the war, volunteered and found themselves on the front line.
On the first day near Arras, Tom went forward alone to silence a machine gun post - he was wounded. On 3rd May Jack Harrison ran and destroyed a machine gun post hidden in Oppy Wood - he was killed. Both received the VC for conspicuous bravery. Both men typified their northern roots and their story helps us understand the sacrifice made by the men on the front line and the families and communities they came from.
This performance explores the Arras Front in words and song linking the communities back home with the life in the trenches and the sacrifices made. Rob Bell, Derek O'Connor, Dave Gawthorpe and Mick McGarry have combined with Rugby League legend (Hull FC and Castleford) Sammy Lloyd to tell the tale.
War is not just about soldiers. It is about men, women and children caught in the grip of forces way beyond their control; streets and churches leveled to the cellars; the fear of U Boats and Zeppelins taking away livelihoods and the pounding and mayhem on the front line. And all the while, the letters back and forth; the knitted socks; the front line memorabilia; the knock at the door and the telegrams.
This performance marks the centenary of the Arras Front.