LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIERNEIL BARTLETT & KATE PULLINGER Book Number: 89066 Product format: Paperback
At Paddington Station stands a life-size bronze statue of a WWI soldier in battle gear, scarf, helmet and greatcoat, reading a letter from home. Sculpted by Charles Sargeant Jagger and unveiled on Armistice Day 1922, its official title is the Great Western Railway War Memorial, and its purpose is to commemorate the 2,524 employees of the GWR who gave their lives in the Great War. They are named on a vellum scroll which is housed in a sealed casket inside the plinth. In 2014, the centenary of the outbreak of the war, the editors of this book, in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum, invited people to write the letter he has been reading for nearly a century. Responses poured in from all over the world, from people of all ages and walks of life - schoolchildren, pensioners, students, artists, nurses, actors, politicians, soldiers, writers, prisoners - an entirely new kind of war memorial, created by thousands of people, made of words. This book is a selection of some 120 of these extraordinary letters from members of the public as well as some well-known figures such as Stephen Fry, David Cameron, Dawn French, Sheila Hancock and Benjamin Zephaniah. What is surprising and most enjoyable is the range of the letters' subject matter. Here are letters from wives and parents offering news from home, love and encouragement but also "Dear John" missives, letters from teachers and clergy, calls to mutiny, insurrection and disobedience, notes on the pointlessness of it all and the highest praise for the soldiers' bravery and integrity in a terrible situation entirely of someone else's making - a range of emotions and subject matter that greatly surprised the editors and us too. 243pp paperback with b/w illus.
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