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Edmund Carrington, the Squire’s younger son, and Tom Dawson, a worker on the Squire’s country estate are both in love with a village girl, pretty Jenny Wilson. Joe Andrews, a bit of a young rebel, and Stan Watkins, a young lad with learning difficulties, are best friends with Tom, who is also the group leader. At the annual cricket match – the squire’s team versus the village team – the antagonism between Tom and Edmund is obvious. It is made worse, when caught up in the excitement of Tom bowling out Edmund, Tom catches Jenny in his arms and kisses her. Edmund, has accidentally shot dead his popular and successful elder brother, Charles, and the squire intends to send him to join his old regiment in disgrace over the scandal. When Stan, encouraged by the Recruiting Officer, takes the ‘King’s Shilling’ unwittingly enlisting into the army, the rest of the group decide that they can’t let vulnerable Stan go to war without them, promising his sister, Peggy Watkins, they would take care of him. Peggy is Joe’s girlfriend. As was the case in World War, I village lads would all be recruited into the same regiment, and so we find them altogether in the trenches on the first day of the Somme.Before leaving their village for war, Jenny, in love with Edmund, has become pregnant but is demeaned and rejected by him, only for Tom then offering to marry her, which she accepts. In the trenches Edmund is the Lieutenant and officer-in-charge, and as might be expected this situation between the two men causes tension and hatred. In readiness for the main attack, Edmund orders Joe and Stan to go with him on a mission to cut the barbed-wire in no-man’s land, when Stan, in bravely saving Edmund, is then killed through Edmund’s cowardice in leaving him entangled in the barbed-wire. Edmund twists the report of Stan’s death to their commanding officer, Captain Neame, while Joe tells Tom the true story. Upon going ‘over the top’ to do battle, Joe becomes seriously injured and Tom insists on carrying him to safety, although given an order by Edmund to leave him, which Tom ignores. Joe, ultimately dies, but the incident results in Tom being brought before a Court Martial when the sentence, if found guilty, is to be shot at dawn.
The ending is both dramatic and emotional.                         BACK