Dyer, Bean and Fry in WWI tribute
Published 09/04/2014 | 00:07
Danny Dyer, Stephen Fry and Sean Bean are among the stars to have contributed to the official First World War centenary album.
The album of words and music, called Forever, will also include appearances from the descendants of servicemen who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their gallantry in the war, whose voices have been assembled for a version of John McCrae's In Flanders Fields.
The album, to be issued by Decca Records on July 14, sees EastEnders star Danny reading In Memoriam by Ewart Alan Mackintosh, Game Of Thrones actor Sean Bean performing Anthem For Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen and Stephen Fry giving his take on In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.
Comic actor John Thomson recites Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est and Sarah Millican reads Amy Lowell's sonnet From One Who Stays, and there are wordless performances of Abide With Me and I Vow To Thee, My Country.
Prime Minister David Cameron has recited Rupert Brooke's poem The Soldier for the album, while Radio 4 presenter James Naughtie recorded For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon,
The Royal British Legion and the Victoria Cross Trust spent months tracking down relatives of VC recipients for their contributions.
They include Victor Harbige, whose heroic great-grandfather Lance Corporal Arthur Henry Cross was awarded the medal for heading alone across "No Man's Land" to an enemy trench.
Armed with a revolver, he forced seven men to surrender and recovered two captured machine guns, returning with the men and the weapons and then assembling a team of soldiers to man the guns and defeat a counter-attack.
Mr Harbige, 57, from Ashford in Kent said: "I do remember him telling about how he won his medal - he said 'Look, they nicked my guns and I wanted them back. Simple'.
"It means so much to me and my family to be a part of this.
"We, as a family, are so proud of my great-grandfather Arthur, but we have to remember that he was just one hero - there were millions more who took part in that awful war and each one of them is a hero too."
Royal British Legion director of fundraising Charles Byrne said: "The poetry borne of the struggles of World War One captured so hauntingly the trauma experienced by a generation of young men.
"Poets such as John McCrae and Wilfred Owen express this tragedy in a manner that only those who have seen it first-hand can describe.
"This album will help keep these moments alive for future generations."
Funds raised by the album will go towards meeting the £230,000 daily costs of helping and supporting service personnel and their families.