Major General Ivor Maxse
In 1914 The East Surreys and the East Kents were regiments that now form part of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. They were incorporated into the 18th (Eastern) Division, established in September 1914 by Kitchener for the British Army.
Through research for the Western Heights in Dover, I began to focus on Major General Ivor Maxse, commander of the 18th Division from 1914 to 1917. Maxse, a brilliant but little known General, was a great believer in training and preparation before battle.
I decided to visit the Imperial War Museum to look at Maxse’s papers. I realized he went to extraordinary lengths to prepare his men for combat. He published training manuals that attempted to detail every moment of a soldier’s time.
I settled on the idea of asking a living historian to act out an aspect of the material I had researched. I wanted to make it apparent to a viewer how much a soldier has to prepare and also wanted to say something about how the 18th Division achieved its objectives at the Battle of the Somme.
This was more problematic than I originally thought until I met Dan Elliot through the Western Heights Preservation Society. He was excited about the idea; he offered to act in the film and wrote moving dialogue about Maxse. With Phil Eydens help we shot the film at the Drop Redoubt and Dan and I improvised 3 different films in the barracks and the casemates. John Dargan
Legacy of Wilfred ‘Billie’ Nevill