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Local musician helps depict a moment in history.

<p>Jeff Pittman (third from left) followed in the footsteps of his ancestors in the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel in the documentary Film Newfoundland at Armageddon.</p>
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<p>Jeff Pittman (third from left) followed in the footsteps of his ancestors in the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel in the documentary Film Newfoundland at Armageddon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Local Musician Jeff Pittman can now add actor to his resumé.

The Marystown native was among those who were selected to help recreate the battle of Beaumont-Hamel in the film Newfoundland at Armageddon.

This project was a partnership between a few firms involved in the film industry, including a company called Morag Loves Company, GalaFilm and the CBC.

The 33-year-old had heard an ad on the radio looking for decedents of soldiers who fought in the war to take part in the documentary.

“You had to (make a) video of yourself talking about your relative that was in the war — tell a little bit about your connection to them and why you would be interested in a film about the first day of the Battle of the Somme,” Pittman said.

He applied and was approved to be in the film but did not hear anything for a number of months.

“I saw that their Facebook page had some updates, so I followed up,” Pittman said. “It turned out they had refined what they were doing, and they were just looking for folks with connections to Beaumont-Hamel, but the girl who was doing the recruitment said we do have a space, so if you’d like to come we’ll fit you in anyways.”

Ancestors

“I had three ancestors that I knew of for sure that were in the Great War,” Pittman said. “Two of them were brothers — the first cousins of my great grandfather.

“One of them had been engaged to be married to my great-great-aunt. He was killed. His name was Private Thomas McCarthy.”

Pittman learned from researching for the film that McCarthy of the 26th Battalion was killed the morning of the Battle of Passchendaele.

Another relation of Pittman’s also served during the war. Corporal Robert Pittman was killed in the Battle of Amiens in France.

Robert’s brother Joseph Pittman also served.

Experience

Pittman said the director of the film wanted the cast to live as close to the conditions that their ancestors would have during that time.

They spent approximately five days in a camp that was set up on a rifle range in Makinsons owned by the Department of Nation Defense.

“We slept in tents on military cots with just a sleeping bag and no pillow,” he recalled. “We all had to wear very basic stuff — like we all had to have white underwear and grey socks.”

They were also supplied with a replica uniform worn by soldiers in the Newfoundland Regiment.

Pittman said taking part in the film was an amazing experience.

“It was very humbling, very inspiring,” he said. “It really gave you more then one moment to pause for thought about the role that Newfoundlanders, the soldiers, and their families had in that phase in history.”

Pittman explained that they were provide training on how to march, fire a gun and throw a grenade to prepare for the re-enactments.

He explained out of all the scenes they filmed, the most powerful one was when they reenacted the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

“The captain gets up with his whistle, fires off his gun and then we all advance,” he said. “We were told in what sequence we would each fall, but the big thing about it was to show how it happened that morning.”

Pittman said they advanced slowly towards the Danger Tree as the soldier they were depicting had done in the past.

“I heard it compared to how you’d be if you were out in a blistering snow storm,” he said. “I think that is what the fellows were advancing like in this instance where they were trying to walk amongst all this gunfire.”

Pittman said in the past he has had no experience with military protocol.

“I wasn’t even in Sea Cadets,” he said. “I kept having to rationalize walking in the shoes of people who did something so very real, and trying to replicate that, all I could think was I’m not really a soldier — that’s not really my thing.”

During the final scene, as they made their approach, Pittman couldn’t help but wonder what went through the minds of the soldiers.

“Those fellows who went over there, they didn’t receive any large amount of military training before they went. They were fishermen, young fellows. They were Newfoundlanders of the day, they weren’t seasoned soldiers,” he said. “It kept occurring to me is that what was going through those fellows heads at some point in time?

“Were they thinking, ‘Well I’m not really a soldier, why am I here? How did I get into this or what am I supposed to be doing?’.”

 

colin.farrell@tc.tc

@Colin_TCMedia

The Marystown native was among those who were selected to help recreate the battle of Beaumont-Hamel in the film Newfoundland at Armageddon.

This project was a partnership between a few firms involved in the film industry, including a company called Morag Loves Company, GalaFilm and the CBC.

The 33-year-old had heard an ad on the radio looking for decedents of soldiers who fought in the war to take part in the documentary.

“You had to (make a) video of yourself talking about your relative that was in the war — tell a little bit about your connection to them and why you would be interested in a film about the first day of the Battle of the Somme,” Pittman said.

He applied and was approved to be in the film but did not hear anything for a number of months.

“I saw that their Facebook page had some updates, so I followed up,” Pittman said. “It turned out they had refined what they were doing, and they were just looking for folks with connections to Beaumont-Hamel, but the girl who was doing the recruitment said we do have a space, so if you’d like to come we’ll fit you in anyways.”

Ancestors

“I had three ancestors that I knew of for sure that were in the Great War,” Pittman said. “Two of them were brothers — the first cousins of my great grandfather.

“One of them had been engaged to be married to my great-great-aunt. He was killed. His name was Private Thomas McCarthy.”

Pittman learned from researching for the film that McCarthy of the 26th Battalion was killed the morning of the Battle of Passchendaele.

Another relation of Pittman’s also served during the war. Corporal Robert Pittman was killed in the Battle of Amiens in France.

Robert’s brother Joseph Pittman also served.

Experience

Pittman said the director of the film wanted the cast to live as close to the conditions that their ancestors would have during that time.

They spent approximately five days in a camp that was set up on a rifle range in Makinsons owned by the Department of Nation Defense.

“We slept in tents on military cots with just a sleeping bag and no pillow,” he recalled. “We all had to wear very basic stuff — like we all had to have white underwear and grey socks.”

They were also supplied with a replica uniform worn by soldiers in the Newfoundland Regiment.

Pittman said taking part in the film was an amazing experience.

“It was very humbling, very inspiring,” he said. “It really gave you more then one moment to pause for thought about the role that Newfoundlanders, the soldiers, and their families had in that phase in history.”

Pittman explained that they were provide training on how to march, fire a gun and throw a grenade to prepare for the re-enactments.

He explained out of all the scenes they filmed, the most powerful one was when they reenacted the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

“The captain gets up with his whistle, fires off his gun and then we all advance,” he said. “We were told in what sequence we would each fall, but the big thing about it was to show how it happened that morning.”

Pittman said they advanced slowly towards the Danger Tree as the soldier they were depicting had done in the past.

“I heard it compared to how you’d be if you were out in a blistering snow storm,” he said. “I think that is what the fellows were advancing like in this instance where they were trying to walk amongst all this gunfire.”

Pittman said in the past he has had no experience with military protocol.

“I wasn’t even in Sea Cadets,” he said. “I kept having to rationalize walking in the shoes of people who did something so very real, and trying to replicate that, all I could think was I’m not really a soldier — that’s not really my thing.”

During the final scene, as they made their approach, Pittman couldn’t help but wonder what went through the minds of the soldiers.

“Those fellows who went over there, they didn’t receive any large amount of military training before they went. They were fishermen, young fellows. They were Newfoundlanders of the day, they weren’t seasoned soldiers,” he said. “It kept occurring to me is that what was going through those fellows heads at some point in time?

“Were they thinking, ‘Well I’m not really a soldier, why am I here? How did I get into this or what am I supposed to be doing?’.”

 

colin.farrell@tc.tc

@Colin_TCMedia

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