HUMAN warmth and warfare combined in a performance that brought the lives of soldiers and civilians in the First World War out of dusty text books and under the spotlight.

The latest production at The Dukes gave a sense of reality to an event that, for most of the audience, was only a fading history lesson.

The real Accrington unit was a battalion raised from the Lancashire town in the early months of the First World War – and the opening day of the Battle of the Somme saw 584 of its 720 members killed, missing or wounded.

Students from the University of Cumbria put the plight on stage.

When religious soldier Arthur bellowed on to the set, the gentleman sat next to me in the audience nearly jumped into my lap.

Finally, a hush descended when Tom, the drama’s tragic hero, returned from France covered in blood.

The play was a little too static to suit a performance ‘in the round’ but the force and humour of the actors gave an impressive sense of the past.