R. C. Sherriff's Journey's End set for West End run from July 2011

Posted: 9th June 2011

A month or so ago, the world's last known First World War veteran passed away in his sleep at the age of 110. Claude Choules joined the Royal Navy at just 15 and served in The Great War before relocating to Australia where he died in May 2011.

His demise followed the passing in 2009 of 111-year-old Harry Patch - believed to be the last British survivor of the trenches - and veteran Henry Allingham who, at 113, had also been the world's oldest living man.

With Choules, Patch, Allingham and their generation died an irreplaceable connection to the memory and horror of the First World War. With these first-hand accounts of combat themselves consigned to history, it falls to museums and the arts to preserve the memory.

Thankfully, works like R.C. Sherriff's 'Journey's End', which is based on the author's own experience in the trenches, continue to thrill audiences and attract the very best in theatrical talent.

Written in 1928, 'Journey's End' is set in the trenches at Saint-Quentin, Aisne, towards the end of War. The story takes place in the officers' dugout over four days in March 1918. Its debut in December 1928 starred a young Laurence Olivier.

Sherriff considered calling Journey's End something more abstract - 'Suspense' and 'Waiting' were contenders - but eventually found the title in the poignant closing line of a chapter of an unmentioned book: "It was late in the evening when we came at last to our journey's end".

David Grindley's award-winning production of Sherriff's masterpiece is running at London's Duke of York's Theatre from Tuesday 19th July to Saturday 3rd September 2011. Tickets are available now, priced from £10 to £49.50.

Stewart Darkin