This play, by John Peacock, was about the death of a young soldier, and the callous way in which the army treated the bereaved.
Eddie Wallace was a young soldier posted to Aden in 1965, during the last days of colonialism. It was not a safe place; there was violence, bombings, and terrorism.
Eddie died a few weeks after going out there in what the army described as a swimming accident. The first Eddie's parents knew of it was when a delivery boy delivered a blunty-worded telegram one Sunday morning. It said the following, almost word for word: "Your son is dead; for more information ring this number on weekdays between 10 and 4".
John Peacock’s play, Bringing Eddie Home, was a superb
docu-drama showing how Eddie’s parents, Jack and Edna Wallace,
campaigned to ensure that no other parent would be treated in such
a brutal way by the army authorities.
They also received (after many years of argument) parliamentary ratification of the right to have the loved one’s body flown home for burial.
A generation later, when Mrs Thatcher decreed that the British dead from the Falklands were to be interred there, Edna reminded her of the law and forced the Prime Minister to do a U-turn within 24 hours.
Edna Dove and Bill Treacher played the elderly Edna and Jack and Tilly Vosburgh and Todd Carty were their younger selves. Joe Absalom was Eddie.
Greg Linden spotted some very interesting information on the BBC message board, and parts of it are summarised here:
"Cindy" wrote as follows:
.... Hi, I am the grandaugher of Jack & Edna Wallace whose true story was on today (22nd May) at 2.15pm. I'd love to hear what you thought of the story and what they did all those years ago.
one reply went as follows:
i had already written my thoughts on this play before I saw your
post, sorry about that... enjoyed it and was really moved by your
grandparents' love and determination. Have you had time to ask your
grandparents what they think of this play?...was it anybody to do
with the family who wrote it?
.......My grandparents were interviewed by John Peacock
and they had a script weeks before this aired. They knew exactly
what was going into the play. I have not spoken to them yet but
they did say they are glad the story will be aired, though 45
minutes is not really long enough to tell it in full. We are
hoping it will be made into a tv one-off.
- and another, from "geraldinemc"
...I enjoyed today's play, very moving. Your grandparents
must have been very strong willed to battle through the bureaucracy
of the time without the aid of phones and the internet - and also
travelling to the middle east at a time when foreign travel for
normal working people was unheard of and not a lot of money about.
That was typical of that generation of not wanting to be in debt
to anyone. I also liked the background events that were mentioned.
I grew up in Leyton/Leytonstone and my parents told me about
Leytonstone house housing children that could not be looked after by
their mothers because of mental and physical disability or because
they were "illegitimate". (I felt a tinge of sadness when I once
went into the supermarket built on the site)
....Thank you for your comments Geraldine. My Nan will love to read all these comments. Yes you are right they are a stubbon old couple and don't give up on what they believe in, nan especially is still like that today.
Last week I believe John Peacock read the messages here.
So in case you read here again today John ..... brilliant job, thank you.
Message from the writer:
Hello Cindy - it’s John Peacock - Have just seen your
latest message as I logged on to send this. Thank you. How terrific
to have Jack and Edna as grandparents. I’m priviliged to have been
given permission to write their story. As you know it took almost
three years from speaking with your Uncle Martin (Tid) to the
broadcast itself and it has been the most moving experience for me.
I wrote the script with Eddie’s photograph and last letter beside me,
the epaulette badges from his uniform and a photograph of his
grave with its two headstones, which were taken when Martin, Jack
and Edna took me on a memorable day tour of their (and Eddie’s) East
Celia de Wolff (the director) assembled a terrific cast,
who recorded the play in Brighton on a Bank Holiday weekend and
were totally committed to making the story known - as was Peter
Hoare, the head of Pier Productions. I’ve never been involved
with such a project where the commitment was so total from
To answer other queries: No. It does not seem likely
that the full truth will ever be known about exactly how Eddie
died, but without his death, the law would never have been
Yes, there has been interest from a television
company, who have read the script, and the interest is ongoing.
One last point. After all the sacrifices they have made and all
they have achieved it seems to me a huge oversight that Jack and
Edna who fought for and brought about such a crucial change in
the law, which affects the families of all servicemen, should
not have been mentioned in any Honours List. The only recognition
they have ever had is an invitation to a Buckingham Palace Garden
Party ... which followed their letter to Margaret Thatcher,
reminding her of the changes that had been made.
....posted by "SteveEastVillage", U.S.A......
.... I thought the play was well written and produced. It
was a subject that could have easily been made over-dramatic, but
I thought the emotional tone was perfect. That made it all much more
real and accessible. The Wallaces are great citizens. I wish NPR
here in the States would pick up the play and air it here. The whole
historic background with Iraq also provides useful information that
we can all benefit being reminded of. The story reminded me of the
Costa-Gavas film "Missing". Although a harder edged left-political
film (and a very great one I think), that was also based on a true
story. This too made one think about the horrible current situation
and how so many are being used for a game that is very hard to make
sense out of.
Great job, Mr. Peacock.
posted by "scrofula"
.... I thought it was very well done; it's important that
this piece of history becomes more widely known.
Finally - a few words from N.D.......
........I hope no-one quoted here minds my using their contributions.
If you object to being quoted without permission (I do not know
how to contact you), email me and I will remove your comments. I considered
putting a link to the BBC board, but after a few weeks the
posts disappear. A pity.
Excellent job, Mr. Peacock.......
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
Back to top