My name is John Tanner and I am playing the part of Edwin Cooper in the forthcoming Saddleworth Players’ production of ‘Le Grand Return’ at the Millgate Arts Centre.
During the 2nd World War Edwin was Captain of the Pays Corps, a vital role (paying out wages) but frustrated not to have been a ‘Fighting’ Soldier particularly as he shows a real flare for foreign languages as you will witness during the play!!
This play will make you laugh and will make you cry but it is a poignant reminder of the struggles, hardships and loss of comrades and loved ones to all those who have experienced wartime.
In the play there is a reference to Edwin’s Father being gassed at Ypres during the 1st World War which connects to my own Grandfather, Gilbert Tanner who was at that time a Major in the 7th battalion (West Riding Division of the Duke of Wellingtons). He fought at the battle of Poelcapelle, the 3rdbattle of Ypres in 1917 and was awarded the DSO for his actions in the Battle of Valenciennes fighting alongside Canadian forces at the beginning of November 1918, finally rising to the rank of Colonel.
My Father fought in the 2nd World War and was in both the North African and Italian campaigns serving as Captain in the Territorials.
As I was too young to have been called up for National Service (and obviously too young to be cast in this play !!!!) my only experience of Military Life was in the School CCF – and to escape boring drill I joined the School Military Band which sported a much more colourful uniform – However I couldn’t play an instrument so I was given the task of playing the tenor drum. I never did quite master hitting the drum and marching in time together with disastrous results during a rendition of ‘Hello Dolly’ around the athletics track in front of an amused audience and not so amused parents!
Saddleworth Players will perform La Grand Return at the Millgate Arts Centre from 1 – 8 February. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.