Valley of the Shadow

An old soldier remembers a First World War incident

Listen to the Living Archive Band sing Valley of the Shadow, inspired by Hawtin's words.

Hawtin Mundy was born in 1894 and lived for most of his life in New Bradwell. He joined up to serve in the First World War in 1914. He was interviewed in 1980 and his memories,published as a book ‘No Heroes No Cowards‘, became the main inspiration for the local musical documentary play – ‘Days of Pride’ and for a one-man show that received a Sony Radio Award.

No Man’s Land

“Well, then we turned round and looked across No-Man’s-Land. Well all along No-Man’s-Land , there wasn’t a shot being fired, but it was lit up like daylight because all the time, you see, from their trenches and our trenches they kept firing Star shells and that lights up like electric lights in the sky. Well, when we looked across there you could see all our blokes laying dead, all over the place, it was lit up as clear as that. If only a artist, a well known artist, could have only have stood there with us and painted that scene as it was there and they’d took it back and hung it in the rooms or cabinet headquarters of other countries, they daren’t have declared a war, not if they’d got any sense and see that hanging up”.

The Shadow of Death

“Years later, when we got old, my old darling, she always used to read the Good Book before we went to sleep, you know. What I can recall mainly was the little bit she used to read; As I pass through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. Now then, I always remembered that, you see and the old dear used to read it and I used to say then, I did pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and I felt no evil. Those people that I killed, deliberately killed, I didn’t hate those chaps, I didn’t know, I didn’t hate them. I’m not only, I’m sorry and I’m ashamed I done it, because those young chaps, might have been nice young chaps with a family of a couple of little kids and all that, you know, it’s awful, there’s nothing brave about it, heroes and cowards, there’s no such thing.”

Learn more about Hawtin’s and other Wolverton and New Bradwell First World War experiences by visiting the Days of Pride website.

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