Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This is a sincerely patriotic play, very vigorously written. John Sturger is a middle-aged skilled workman, a trusted leader among his mates. His daughter Mary Is courted by Steve Allison, another skilled workman, while all her thoughts are with her brother Tom and her cousin Wilfred at the Front. A strike is impending in a workshop important for munitions but not under Government control, the chief point at issue being the admission of non-Union workmen. Steve argues the case with Mary very well. He himself would rather have been at the Front, but cannot be spared as a workman and is working hard overtime; his argument is that the employers are taking an advantage which they will keep after the war and that he and the other intending strikers are upholding the rights of their absent 'war -mates'. John, influenced by Steve, is to make a speech in favour of the strike. But then Wilfred arrives on a few days leave. He is appalled at the idea of the strike, knowing what it means in the lives of soldiers. To gain John's influence against it he tells him that his own son Tom had to be left wounded on the field after an attack which failed for want of munitions, whereas in truth he himself had brought Tom in and had been given the V.C. for doing so. John is won over and is told that his son is all right and Wilfred adds very strongly put pleas for the works straining very nerve and not worrying about non-Unionists and john makes a fine patriotic speech instead of the strike speech he had intended. No doubt extreme upholders of Trade Union principles, even in these times, would object to Wilfred's arguments. But they are certainly what the men in the trenches are really saying, and I think can do nothing but well in being repeated everywhere. Recommended for license. G. S. Street

Researcher's Summary:

As well as being perfomed extensively in Britain, in January 1916 the play was taken to New York. 'The Era' reported on 5 January 1916 that "Mr. and Mrs. Henry de Vries sailed on Tuesday for New York ... The eminent Dutch actor takes with him these well-established successes, 'A Case of Arson, 'A Night with Arsino Lupin' 'Submarine 7', and 'War Mates.''

Licensed On: 28 Oct 1915

License Number: 3820

British Library Reference: LCP1915/29

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66115 I


15 Nov 1915 Victoria Palace, LondonProfessional Licensed Performance
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The cast included: Herbert Russell (John Sturger), Daisy Cordell (Mary Sturger), Sidney Vautier (Wilfred Sturger), Slaine Mills (Steve Allison). It was produced by Eille Norwood. The variety portion of the programme included Tom Hearne, Coram, Clark's Crazy Cyclists, Twelve Manchester Mites, Jack Lane, Anaros, the Kebbles, and Lauri Howard. The play was described as 'A powerful little "play of the moment"' ('Era', 17 November 1915) and the author's direct experience of the issue was referred to: 'The piece deals with the question of munitions, and the author, an officer of the London Scottish, after being wounded, is now an invalid in England. The action of 'War Mates' takes place in this country; its purpose is to stimulate and maintain the supply of munitions. 'War Mates' will be staged by Eille Norwood." ('The Stage', 4 November 1915)
29 Nov 1915 Hippodrome, NewcastleProfessional
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It was advertised as coming before: “CHAR LADIES.” " a comical impromptu. v Also CECIL LYLE, the Magical Milliner; BRADSHAW BROS., Acrobatic Eccentrics; FREDRICA’S TERRIERS; TALBOT & PEARCE, in “A Winsome Wooing”; THE DENNISONS, Terpsichorean Artistes; and HARRY MARLOW, Comedian.' (Jarrow Express, 3 December 1915)
6 Dec 1915 Palace Theatre, ManchesterProfessional
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Performing alongside was the magician Chung Lee Soo: 'For once in a way revue does not find a place in the Palace programme next week. But there is nevertheless a very good bill. The star attraction is a sketch by Mr. Herbert De Hamel, entitled " War Mates," which will be found as topical as anything yet presented on the music-hall stage.....Chung Ling Soo. the famous Chinese conjurer, is also in the bill' (Manchester Courier, 4 December 1915)
13 Dec 1915 Alhambra, GlasgowProfessional
17 Dec 1915 ?, BangorAmateur
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This charity performance was given by officers. The Liverpool Daily Post reported on 20 December 1915: 'BANGOR WAR FUNDS. Among the many efforts made in Bangor raise funds for wounded Bangor soldiers....dramatic entertainment given on Friday night by the officers of the 20th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, when three dramatic sketches... were presented highly creditable manner to a very large and appreciative audience.'
20 Dec 1915 Collins' Music Hall, LondonProfessional
31 Dec 1915 Hinton St George, Hinton St GeorgeAmateur
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This was an amateur production mounted by soldiers in hospital.
10 Jan 1916 Hippodrome, LiverpoolProfessional
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"The author has shown no little skill in constructing a story which certainly takes firm hold of the audience, and which should go a long way towards stimulating national enthusiasm. The programme is further strengthened by other vaudeville turns, including comedians, vocalists, dancers, knockabouts, while a series of entertaining pictures are shown upon the bioscope" (Liverpool Daily Post 12 January 1916)
17 Jan 1916 Alhambra, BradfordProfessional
17 Jan 1916 Alhambra, BradfordProfessional
24 Jan 1916 Hippodrome, LeedsProfessional
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The play is described as 'A war play that hits hard' (Yorkshire Evening Post, 25 January 1916)
30 Jan 1916 Hippodrome, PortsmouthProfessional
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'War Mates' was third on the bill and being performed twice nightly. Other acts in the bill were: Albert Chevalier, and Chung Ling So.
31 Jan 1916 Theatre Royal Hippodrome, DublinProfessional
7 Feb 1916 Hippodrome, SheffieldProfessional
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Performed by Mr Alfred Butt's company.
14 Feb 1916 Hippodrome, SouthamptonProfessional
18 Feb 1916 Hippodrome, SouthamptonProfessional
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This performance was for the wounded.
19 Apr 1917 ?, BlakeneyAmateur
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This performance took place as part of an evening of entertainment that raided £20 - Mrs De Hamel was involved.