Mercers’ Lecture by Andrew Tatham

Tuesday 19 April at 19.30 in the New Pavilion
World War One: A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH - Before, Now & In-Between

(As heard on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show – December 2015)

Andrew Tatham’s epic 21 year research into one photograph of a group of soldiers is an astonishing and very moving piece of work.

Two decades ago, Tatham found a photograph of 46 Great War soldiers (including his own great grandfather) and began researching what happened to their families up to the present day. A remarkable journey of discovery ensued as Tatham travelled the world meeting their descendants.

Join us for a remarkable journey of discovery through Tatham’s audio visual exploration of the effects of war on families for generations to come.

All welcome - please contact the School if you wish to attend, either by sending an email to or by telephone on 01380 814500. No charge – retiring collection for the International Tree Foundation.

Background - by Andrew Tatham

The men shown in this First World War Group Photograph are the officers of the 8th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment. The photograph was taken in their training camp on Salisbury Plain in May 1915, just a few months before they embarked for the trenches in France.

My great-grandfather William Walton was their commanding officer and I have been in touch with relatives of all 46 men in the photograph, and researched their family trees going back 100 years before the War and then through the 100 years to today. The detail is in the book, but at the heart of this research are the men named here.

Of all of those in the photograph, only my great-grandfather (their Commanding Officer) was a regular soldier at the outbreak of the war. The rest of them included businessmen, students, and lawyers, as well as a vicar, a teacher, an artist, and a poet and critic. Amongst them were the sons of an explorer, a tobacconists’ traveller, the first Bishop in Persia, a biscuit factory machinist, an egg merchant, a gardener’s labourer, and a physics professor. Each was an individual who had entered the world small and defenceless and had grown into someone with particular feelings, values, and aspirations. Some had travelled from as far afield as Malaya, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, Ceylon, and Argentina. This group was brought together by a shared belief in the cause that they were to fight for. They shared the intense experience of preparing for and going to war. Only 21 of the 46 officers survived to have post-war lives.

Of those that survived, some had their lives shortened as a result of wounds. Others went on to have full lives with their families and occupations (including a GP in Wimbledon, a forester, and a gold mining engineer in India). Some were also involved in military service in the Second World War. The longest surviving member of the group died in 1989, aged 94.

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