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Letters from a Small Town

Winner of a Platinum Remi-award at the Houston Film Festival - Best Short Documentary

This short film tells the story of a group of ordinary men and women from a small town in Wiltshire during World War One.

The outbreak of war in 1914 saw the beginning of a world conflict that would claim the lives of over 37 million people, both military and civilian.

The Great War of 1914- 1918 was a war that would touch the lives of everyday people as they lost loved ones men, women and children.

As German troops moved south into France and the French and British troops moved north to meet them, the massive armies met each other in a stalemate. By September 1914, neither side could force the other to move, so each side began to dig trenches.

For the next four years, the troops would fight from these trenches.

The only way to overtake the other side's trench was for the soldiers to cross "No Man's Land," the area between the trenches, on foot. Out in the open, thousands of soldiers raced across this barren land in the hopes of reaching the other side. Often, most were hewn down by machine-gun fire and artillery before they even got close.

The very nature of trench warfare saw millions of young men slaughtered on the battlefields. The war quickly became one of attrition, which meant that with so many soldiers being killed daily, eventually the side with the most men remaining would win the war.

By 1917 joined by its Allie America together they stood side by side and fought for our freedom.

Every City, town and village in England would feel the pain of loss.

The only comfort was the connection with home and the letters sent to and from the front by loved ones.

A selection of these letters from Chippenham a small town in Wiltshire, were used for the basis of this short film. The letters tell of a soldier’s desire to fight for their country, their thoughts as they left home and travelled abroad, and the gradual realization that they would be forfeiting their lives so we could have our freedom.

Using original letters and supported by original film footage, the words spoken offer accounts of those men and women who served and died during World War One.

Their words reveal their accounts of joining up and the experience of travelling to a foreign land for the first time, and the growing fear and realisation that many of them might never return.

These letters were not all written by experienced battle hardy soldiers, but by butchers, shopkeepers, clerks and teachers, who were thrown together to do their duty for their country.

It is these ordinary words which tell the story of their extraordinary lives.

They are the words of a lost generation.

They are letters from a small town.