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Saturday 8 November
8.00pm The Archive Hour:
St Dunstan's

For nearly ninety years St Dunstan's has had a unique part in our history.

It was founded in 1915 specifically to care for the needs of servicemen and women returning from the trenches blinded, and it has been caring for the war blind ever since. Soldiers who have lost their sight in conflicts from World War I and II, Suez and Korea, The Falklands, Bosnia and Northern Ireland tell their stories in their own words.

We hear a story about an unique institution and the unique group of people that make it up. Stories of ordinary men and women, united by blindness, whose spirit has seen them find independence and fulfilment after personal devastating trauma.


Sunday 9 November
Due to the Ceremony of Remembrance from the Cenotaph there will be no Broadcasting House and The Archers omnibus will begin at the earlier time of 9.15am.

8.07am Sunday Worship

A reflection for Remembrance Day, live from Birmingham Cathedral.

10.30am Ceremony of Remembrance from the Cenotaph

Fergal Keane sets the scene in London's Whitehall for the solemn ceremony when the nation remembers the sacrifice made by so many in the two World Wars and in other major conflicts.

The traditional music of Remembrance is played by the Massed Bands and, after the Last Post and Two Minutes Silence, Her Majesty the Queen lays the first wreath on behalf of Nation and Commonwealth. Then the Bishop of London leads a short service of Remembrance.

Followed by The Last Pageant, Kit Wright visits the memorial chapel at Sutton House in Hackney, once home to the St John's Institute, a recreational club for young men who then went off to fight in the trenches.

4.30pm Unicorns, Almost

Joseph Fiennes is the voice of second world war poet Keith Douglas in this dramatised feature, presented by poet Owen Sheers.

Keith Douglas's name isn't as familiar as the names of the first world war poets Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon, yet Ted Hughes was a great admirer of his poetry, as is Andrew Motion today.

In September 1939 Keith Douglas was 19 years old. He was studying English under the First World War poet, Edmund Blunden and had already had some of his own poems published. But Douglas didn't fit the mould of aesthete. He played rugby, loved horse riding and had always been obsessed with the military.

When war came he enlisted in the cavalry and looked forward to fighting for his country. But Douglas was a loner, a defiant outsider irritated by authority and often rubbed people up the wrong way. When the battle of Alamein started on the 23rd October, in direct disobedience of orders, he went to the frontline.

This dramatised feature combines Douglas's diary account of what happened next, with the poems that came out of his war experience, poems which capture the nature of modern warfare, the juxtaposition of the human and the machine.


Monday 10 November
Escape from Calais

May 1940 saw Hitler's armies sweep through Belgium and France, pushing the British Expeditionary Force back to their cross-Channel escape from Dunkirk. The resulting civilian terror and panic remains in what is perhaps the second world war's most familiar black and white news footage. How a party of 250 British nationals came to share that ordeal is among the strangest forgotten stories of Europe's darkest hour.

This is the story of that remarkable escape from the centre of Ypres to the French Channel ports. These 250 British nationals were the families of ex-British soldiers who had stayed on at the end of the First World War to become gardeners and groundsmen tending the huge military cemeteries of Ypres.

On the morning of 17th May 1940 they received an order to be ready to leave the following morning. 250 British men women and children set off by car, bus, bicycle and on foot towards the French Channel ports. It took them 5 days.

'Escape from Calais' tells the story of this remarkable escape and talks to the survivors who lived through it.


Tuesday 11 November
The Two Minute Silence

Radio 4 observes the two minute silence on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day on the eleventh month.

1.30pm Out of the Shadows

A portrait of the Scottish composer Cecil Coles and the work which lay buried with him for nearly three-quarters of a century until its recent re-discovery.

Coles died on the Somme when he was only 29 in April 1918 after trying to rescue wounded comrades. During the war years, he continued to compose in the trenches and the inscription on his gravestone calls him "a genius before anything else".

James Naughtie uncovers the mystery of why the music of this friend and protégé of Gustav Holst, which seemed before 1914 to have such a promising future, then vanished without trace for 80 years.

2.15pm The Afternoon Play:
A Well Remembered Voice & Barbara's Wedding
by JM Barrie

A double bill of two short plays, both dealing with love, loss and memory, specifically in the aftermath of the Great War.

In 'A Well-Remembered Voice', Mr & Mrs Don have lost their son, Dick, in the trenches. Each comes to terms with his death in a different way. The young man's mother tries to speak to him through a séance, and his father, a sceptic, simply reminisces, by himself. And yet in the process it is Mr Don, and not his wife, who is finally able to talk to their son, and in a way he never could when the boy was alive.

'Barbara's Wedding' also deals with loss, but in a very different way. The Colonel is in his dotage, and as his memory fades, past and present become intertwined. His day is enlivened by a visit from his beloved grandson and the young man's fiancé, Barbara. But are they really there? And who is it exactly that Barbara is marrying?

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