In commemorating the battles of the Somme and Jutland in recent months, Britain has remembered the soldiers and sailors of World War One – and a performance in Cumbria, north west England, is looking to do the same for the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps, or the “Suicide Club”, as it was grimly known.
Geraldine Pilgrim’s Flight sets the lives of those men in the context of aviation history, using as a backdrop, the rich heritage of the area where it is being staged.
Cumbria’s links to aviation are strong – it was the birthplace of Britain’s first seaplane, Waterbird, and one of the first British military airships, and its involvement with both made it a hotbed for would-be pilots in the pre-war years.
Pilgrim says she found their stories and the way their simple desire to fly led to their involvement in the war “completely extraordinary and tragic”.
The men were based at Hill of Oaks on the banks of Windermere, from where Waterbird took its first flight in 1911 and which became a Royal Naval Air Service base during the war.
“Not many people know about its importance,” says Pilgrim.
“The Hill of Oaks became a pilot training school and these young men that just wanted to fly actually got caught up in World War One.
“They became known as the ‘Suicide Club’ because they were only in the air for a maximum of 11 days before they were shot down.”
She says what that name made her realise was “the enormity of the loss to the people that were left behind”, a feeling which she hopes to convey in her “site-specific performance journey”.
Flight: Art journey remembers World War One’s ‘Suicide Club’ – BBC News
13 Jul This entry was published on July 13, 2016 at 8:44 am and is filed under Article.