True life stories of First World War on film in Havant

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TALENTED students from a sixth form college have produced a documentary highlighting the lives of three of their town’s fallen First World War heroes.

Havant’s Heroes delves into the fascinating history of three of the names on the Havant War Memorial outside St Faith’s Church, in West Street.

James Court, left, and Matt Hill, from Havant College. Picture: Ashley Loveman

James Court, left, and Matt Hill, from Havant College. Picture: Ashley Loveman

They researched the lives of Sir Frederick Fitzwygram, whose family owned the Leigh Park Gardens estate, Ernest Dedman and Archibald Paxton.

All three men fought for their country and grew up in Havant.

As well as filming and producing the documentary, the students spent months researching the impact of the Great War on the people back home.

Yesterday the film – which was made possible through a £30,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant – was premiered at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre.

Director Matt Hill said: ‘I didn’t really understand everything about the war so learning through this project gave me such an insight into what the soldiers went through.’

The documentary also highlights the important role that women in Havant played during the Great War.

All three men had links to the VAD Hospital, in Langstone, which is the private residence, Langstone Towers.

And the actors were able to see first hand the constraints of trench life when they filmed at the World War 1 Remembrance Centre at Fort Widley.

Will Andrews, who played Archibald Paxton, said: ‘I felt the conditions in the trenches were horrible. There was no space and I can’t imagine being stuck there for more than a day.’

The teenagers worked with local historians, staff at the Hampshire Archives in Winchester, and Millstream Productions, in Emsworth. The money enabled them to be able to hire professional actors.

A website has also been created to accompany the film and a book is to be published in September.

Go to havantsheroes.co.uk