In commemoration of Rememberance Day, on 12 November 2007 on Radio 2 a programme aired to honour the non-combatants of war: the nurse, the firewarden, the Land Army worker, those left behind at home.
A selection of poetry and songs, almost all written from direct personal experience, commemorating those whose part in war was not to fight but to endure, to work and to suffer along with those who did.
With Richard Armitage, Sarah Lancashire, Susan Jameson and Charlie Brooks.
A War Less Ordinary Saturday 10 November 9.00-9.45pm BBC RADIO 2
This programme presents a perspective of war as viewed through the non-combatants who were essential to the war effort: medical staff, firemen, Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs), ARP wardens and the civilians who supported the men and women at the front by taking over their peacetime jobs.
The very real work and sacrifice of those who didn't fight on the frontline but "did their bit" behind the scenes is told in poetry, song and archive. The poems, largely by lesser-known poets including CL Graves and Jo Westren, are moving in their sincerity, sometimes witty but always with a real point to make. The songs mark, sometimes ruefully, the reality of war away from the fighting but not away from the conflict.
The programme hears from the family members who kept hope alive by writing letters, knitting socks, sending parcels and praying; and the conscientious objectors whose sufferings are only now being taken seriously. And then there were the animals – the horses whose presence pulling gun carriages in the First World War was essential, and the pet dogs who brought to the men some feeling or routine and a hint of quiet domesticity in the future.
In the Observer's TV Supplement, Stephanie Billen wrote:
'Following immediately after highlights from the moving annual British Legion Festival of Remembrance, this worthwhile programme celebrates the war contribution of non-combatants from medical staff to ARP wardens. Their work is celebrated in poetry and song in a feature that also reminds us how families pulled together to write letters and send parcels to soldiers and how even animals played their part with horses pulling gun carriages in the First World War. Bravely and controversially, the programme also considers the sufferings of conscientious objectors.'