PM recites poem for centenary album

Hampshire Chronicle: Prime Minister David Cameron reads Rupert Brooke's poem The Soldier for the official First World War centenary album (Decca Records/PA) Prime Minister David Cameron reads Rupert Brooke's poem The Soldier for the official First World War centenary album (Decca Records/PA)

Prime Minister David Cameron could make his chart debut, after recording a track for a new album - on which he will feature alongside EastEnders star Danny Dyer.

The PM has recited Rupert Brooke's poem The Soldier for the official First World War centenary album, which also includes contributions from Stephen Fry, Radio 4's Today presenter James Naughtie and Game Of Thrones actor Sean Bean.

The album of words and music, called Forever, will also include appearances from the descendants of servicemen who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their gallantry in the war whose voices have been assembled for a version of John McCrae's In Flanders Fields.

Mr Cameron recorded his performance inside his home at 10 Downing Street in London, including one of the most famous lines from the war poets: " If I should die, think only this of me - that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England."

The Prime Minister's move into the recording world comes after he famously fell foul of stars from one of his favourite bands The Smiths for talking about how much he loved their music.

Guitarist Johnny Marr urged Mr Cameron to stop talking about how much he liked their music.

The album, to be issued by Decca Records on July 14, sees Dyer reading In Memoriam by Ewart Alan Mackintosh, Naughtie reciting For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, Bean performing Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen and Stephen Fry giving his take on In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.

Comic actor John Thomson recites Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est and Sarah Millican reads Amy Lowell's sonnet From One Who Stays, and there are wordless performances of Abide With Me and I Vow to Thee, My Country.

The Royal British Legion and the Victoria Cross Trust spent months tracking down relatives of VC recipients for their contributions.

They include Victor Harbige, whose heroic great-grandfather Lance Corporal Arthur Henry Cross was awarded the medal for heading alone across "no man's land" to an enemy trench.

Armed with a revolver, he forced seven men to surrender and recovered two captured machine guns, returning with the men and the weapons and then assembling a team of soldiers to man the guns and defeat a counter-attack.

Mr Harbige, 57, from Ashford in Kent said: "I do remember him telling about how he won his medal - he said 'Look, they nicked my guns and I wanted them back. Simple'.

"It means so much to me and my family to be a part of this.

"We, as a family, are so proud of my great-grandfather Arthur, but we have to remember that he was just one hero - there were millions more who took part in that awful war and each one of them is a hero too."

Royal British Legion director of fundraising Charles Byrne said: "The poetry borne of the struggles of World War One captured so hauntingly the trauma experienced by a generation of young men.

"Poets such as John McCrae and Wilfred Owen express this tragedy in a manner that only those who have seen it first-hand can describe.

"This album will help keep these moments alive for future generations."

Funds raised by the album will go towards meeting the £230,000 daily costs of helping and supporting service personnel and their families.

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