In the spring of 2014 we were commissioned by Hull Heritage Learning to produce three short films about the impact of the First World War in the Humber region.
Of the three films we produced, perhaps the most moving is the story of two brothers, Sydney and Arthur Markham, told by their niece Margaret Markham.
Sydney and Arthur were born and raised in the small North Lincolnshire village of Roxby, just outside Scunthorpe – two young men accustomed to the simple life of a tenant farming family.
Like so many of the soldiers, they wrote home regularly, telling their families how much they missed the comforts of home – in Sydney and Arthur’s case hot bread cakes on a Sunday morning, a soft bed and a good clean shave.
Though they both served in different regiments, sometimes their paths would cross as they made their way to and from the front. Imagine how happy you’d be after spending days in the trenches, to see your brother’s face and know that he was safe.
On one of the days when Sydney was expecting to see his brother, Arthur didn’t show up. After hearing that the whole of his brother’s battalion had been wiped out, Sydney had to write the letter home telling his parents they would never see Arthur again.
At Christmas there was a heartbreaking letter from Sydney in which he explains that he’s fine and he believes the war will soon be over.
And then Sydney was gone too.
The brothers were buried where they fell, their names later inscribed in gold on a memorial on Roxy church.
One of the real privileges when making films is that sometimes you are able to tell stories which may have never been heard, moving stories of people whose lives are just thin threads in the cloth of a past we all share.
Every family has these stories. The first world war affected us all. The young men who lost their lives continue to shape us and and their stories still have power.
They are not forgotten.