Wigan’s Battle of the Somme – (Wigan Observer 15th September 1967)
In 1967 Granada Television re-created the Battle of the Somme at Ince Moss, Wigan, as part of a series called “Inheritance”. The series, based on novels by Dr Phyllis Bentley, told the story of the mill owning Oldroyd Family through five generations. John Thaw and James Bolam were part of the cast of well known names.
Ince Moss became a realistic battlefield with broken trees, barbed wire fences, water filled trenches, clinging mud and dead bodies. Specially laid charges exploded adding uncanny realism to the re-enacted scenes of mayhem.
Local residents observing the action were amazed at how real it looked. One ex serviceman, Peter Unsworth who had served on the Western Front, said the re-created landscape was typical of what he saw in France when it rained. Phyllis Bentley, the author of the novels, was also impressed by the realism being played out by the actors on the altered landscape.
Observers watched as actors, dressed as soldiers, squelched through clinging mud, vividly capturing the appalling carnage of the Somme. Wounded soldiers making their way to the first aid posts with battle wounds also added to the reality.
At the time the cost of making the waste land of Ince Moss resemble the Battle fields of the Somme, was over £1,000. When the battle was over the site had to be left as it was found, derelict.
Battle of the Somme, 1967 – Wigan Observer (15 September 1967)