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Tommy's Sisters - five women in 1916

What was it like to be one of thousands of munitions workers at a huge cordite factory, a nurse looking after grievously injured soldiers at a Red Cross Hospital, or a young girl wondering if she’ll ever see her friend again ?

The 28 minute film was written and directed by Gill Horitz and Tony Horitz from State of Play Arts in partnership with filmmaker Alastair Nisbet from arts organisation ScreenPLAY.
James Webb, assistant curator at the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne which commissioned the film with Heritage Lottery funding, said it had been a great opportunity to work with arts professionals to tell the stories of people in East Dorset 100 years ago. 

“Working with scriptwriters, directors, filmmakers and actors has brought these stories to life for everybody to give us a real feel of what life was like for these courageous women. Across the country there would have been thousands of others like them, but their story is largely untold.”
Sources used in developing the screenplay include a nurse’s autograph album signed by the young soldiers she looked after, and the diary of musician Olive Harcourt who put her musical career on hold to come to Dorset to work for the Red Cross.

Writer Gill Horitz said she wanted to create a feel of what life in the shadow of war was like for these women. “We wanted to portray these their lives through their words, using their objects, photographs and other documents as inspiration. We wanted to give voice to them going about their everyday lives in the streets of Wimborne and beyond, always in the shadow of war and its continuous impact.”

Tommy’s Sisters are: Lady Cordelia Hanham (Barbara Hart); Gertrude Coggin (Tracie Billington-Beardsley) a piano teacher and nurse; Hilda Coles (Jemima Vivian) an eight year old ironmonger’s daughter; Emily Cuff (Chloe Hatherley) cordite factory worker and widow and Olive Harcourt (Michele O’Brien) international musician and volunteer nursing auxilliary.

Read extracts from Olive Harcourt's diaries in the project Voices from 1918 -