Musical oral history – local connections

Birds and music

The British Library has a collection of oral history of jazz in Britain. A local lad, James Howe, features in this archive.

He was born in County Durham in 1917 and served as band boy in the Royal Scots Regiment. James became a prisoner of war during World War Two, and thanks to the arrival of instruments, and records to transcribe music from, he ended up conducting his very own dance band in the camp.

The power of music is highlighted by Howe reporting that when he played his accordion alongside a camp guard playing his violin, the guard say “If Churchill and Hitler could see you and I now, there wouldn’t be any wars.”

Read more about his life and the creation of a camp theatre.

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