Phyllis’s life on the front line told in play

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A play about the World War II adventures of a Moneymore-born nurse will be performed by her daughter at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month.

Kate Jason-Smith’s performance has been warmly received by theatre critics in New Zealand where her mum, Phyllis, went to live after the war ended.

Phyllis, nee Garvin, died in Wellington a few years ago at the age of 93, after receiving a Legion d’Honneur for ‘exceptional courage’ as a QA nurse from the French government.

She is one of only two women from New Zealand to receive the highest decoration of France.

‘I’ll Tell You This for Nothing - My Mother the War Hero’ is directed by Jan Bolwell and is due to open in The BOX, Assembly Theatre, George Square, Edinburgh, from on August 1 and will run until August 25.

Kate, an award winning director and actor, said: “Phyllis’s hospital followed the battles through Europe and finally to the liberation of Belsen.

“Amid this drama she found the love of her life, a Catholic, thus igniting a new and personal war with her mother, a Protestant. 

“Phyllis, herself a great raconteur, regaled her family with the extraordinary stories of war, courage, romance and danger as one of the many nurses who risked their lives on the battle lines of WW11.” 

Several of the scenes in the play take place in Moneymore where Phyllis was born on the family farm ‘Hillsboro’.

She was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and the large family attended the local Methodist Church.

Phyllis emigrated to New Zealand in 1952 where she met her future husband, renowned architect Jason Smith, and raised their children George, Kate, Rhona and Sharon.

One of the most horrifying experiences for Phyllis was when she was sent to Belsen Concentration Camp for seven weeks to take part in the evacuation of 40,000 prisoners.

Tickets for the play are now available online at ‘The List’ webside of Edinburgh Fringe.