In the 1980s Lyn Macdonald organised guided tours to the Somme battlefields. I was planning to make a film about the Battle of the Somme for Channel 4 with the photographer Duffy and the journalist Peter Crookston, and we managed to get the last three places on one of these coach-trips.
Lyn coaxed many veterans who had remained silent about their experiences to speak out for the first time by convincing them that their stories were important. She did this by flirting with them and showing them that she really cared about what they had to say. As elderly men melted under her attention, they gratefully rewarded her with the interviews which became the substance of her books. We credited her on Lions Led by Donkeys, as a major inspiration in our filming.
On each tour Lyn quickly identified those of us who liked to wind down after dinner and assembled us in a local watering-hole for a drink and a song. She called us the PAR, the Piss-Artists’ Rifles.