Waterlooville teacher writes song based on great-grandmother’s letters to the trenches

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  • Song reaches the semi-final of national competition
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LOVE letters from the trenches 100 years ago have inspired a poignant song.

Amy Goddard wrote the musical piece Gladdie after being brought to tears by the heart-wrenching story of her great-grandmother Gladys Woodland, who was in correspondence with a soldier in the trenches during the First World War.

The letters had been sitting in a box at the bottom of a cupboard for many years, but Amy was so inspired she decided to put pen to paper herself.

The song has now reached the semi-final in the UK Songwriting Competition and was released on iTunes and Amazon yesterday.

‘I thought her story was worth sharing,’ said Amy, a piano teacher, of Jubilee Road, Waterlooville.

‘It’s a story that would have been very familiar to hundreds of families across the country.

Amy Goddard (36) from Waterlooville has written a song called 'Gladdie' in memory of her great grandmother Gladys Woodland and her boyfriend Leslie Atwill who was killed in World War One ''Picture by:  Malcolm Wells (150928-5731)

Amy Goddard (36) from Waterlooville has written a song called 'Gladdie' in memory of her great grandmother Gladys Woodland and her boyfriend Leslie Atwill who was killed in World War One ''Picture by: Malcolm Wells (150928-5731)

‘It’s a little vignette of life at the time.’

Gladys met Leslie Atwill while performing in a band at the barracks in South Wales and the pair struck up a romance before he went to fight abroad.

They exchanged letters until Gladys received a short note from Leslie’s relative that he had died from pneumonia.

Leslie, in his early 20s, and his brothers, Thomas, William and Percy, all died during the war, which was fought between 1914-1918.

Gladys, who referred to Leslie as her ‘one true love’, kept the letters and a newspaper cutting announcing his death until her own death in 1985 at the age of 93.

Amy, whose passion is folk singing, said: ‘Last year during the centenary of the war, it made me think about the war and my own family history. I went through the letters again with the aim of writing a song.

‘The thing that struck me more than anything else was he does not talk about what it was like out there.

‘That was perhaps due to censorship, but also the culture of protecting women at home – because of how awful it was.’

Amy has since performed the song at folk clubs in Boarhunt and Havant.

‘I found it quite emotional, particularly because I knew her,’ she said.

‘It took me a while to sing it without breaking down.’

On her thoughts of the First World War, she said: ‘It was a terrible waste of life and nothing changed. It was only another few years later there was a second war.’