From the Farm to the Front is a dramatic and touching play following the lives of the Powell family from Westerleigh, South Gloucestershire, to the bloody fields of the Somme.
Widower William Powell runs a small farm under the increasing demands for food during 1916. His eldest son Bert is in France taking part in the preparations for the Battle of the Somme. His daughters Iris, a nurse, and Doris, a munitions worker, argue over moral ways of supporting the war effort. William’s only remaining farmhand is spurned in his affections for Iris and joins the army when given a white feather. All this turbulence at home is influencing William’s youngest, Alf, who sees the whole war as an exciting adventure.
Iris falls for a dashing RFC pilot and volunteers to work overseas despite her father’s concerns. Meanwhile Doris has her eyes opened to the perils of women working in factories and becomes a workers’ rights activist. But while packing grenades to be sent to the front she slips in a “Billy Do”, an anonymous letter to a soldier in France. This sparks an unlikely romance with Private Jack Thomas who is also stationed on the Somme.
As the build up to the Battle of the Somme intensifies the lives of everyone at home and abroad become intertwined, this is illustrated by the moving correspondence between South Glos and the Somme. Soon everyone, from the youngest child to the eldest residents, is in turmoil while the largest offensive undertaken by the British Army prepares to take place. In a dramatic scene we see the juxtaposition between children playing battles without consequences against the disastrous, bloody first day of the Battle of the Somme.
This poignant window on lives affected by the First World War uses letters and research from real lives explored by the author. This serves as a tremendous resource when teaching secondary age students about the tragedy of war both at home and in battle.