Contributed by: Nigel Drew, on 2008-11-07
|Year of Birth||1896|
|Year of Death||1918|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Barford St Martin, Salisbury, Wiltshire|
Rex Whatley went from Barford St Martin, in rural Wiltshire, to France and apparently survived some years in the trenches. He played a violin which went to France with him. He was killed not long before the end of the war. Some time afterwards a charabanc of soldiers turned up at Barford carrying with them the violin. They said that in their regiment Rex's violin could be heard for miles on still nights and his music was the soundtrack of their lives in the trenches, raising spirits, recording losses, providing jigs for parties etc.
A shame to say that since 1918 this violin has not been played except in the 60's, by my teacher, Mr Dietrich, a Jewish emigree from the Nazis, who always used it for demonstrations in my violin class, who was so carried away by the instrument's melancholic tone that I never learn a thing but was entranced weekly by the music he played on it. A whole generation of farmers' sons died in that war from that village leaving numerous war spinsters in the area. I would love to find someone who could make this violin sing again in his memory.