Brothers in War

by Alexander Baron

Episode Number: 11
Director: Michael Cox



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Philip Ashton   Keith Drinkel
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Robert Ashton   David Dixon
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Susan Reynolds   Rowena Cooper
Peter Collins   David Lincoln
An Irish Woman   Edith Wood
John George Porter   Christopher Renshaw



The Ashton Home   Jean returns home, wheeling John George in the perambulator.

Robert is there to greet her, a surprise because he has arrived a day early.

He gives his mother a decorative pin (from a novelty shop) and John George a wooden train engine.

Jean hopes to have a family gathering that night, but Robert says he will be going out with his pal, Fred.

Army Base in East Anglia   Philip is training a group of recruits in the proper firing position for the Vickers Mark 1 medium machine gun.

Opening a note from a courier, he smiles when he sees that it is an invitation from David.

The Turk's Head   Brothers David and Philip Ashton are chatting at the bar.

Philip explains to David that his lance corporal ranking is merely a courtesy stripe, only valid while he is a Vickers gun instructor.

Susan Reynolds comes in, and David introduces her to Philip.

While David is getting her some cider, Susan and Philip become acquainted.

Susan divulges that David is very proud of his Oxford brother, a revelation that comes as quite a surprise to Philip.

The Ashton Home   Jean and Sheila are preparing vegetables in the kitchen, while Margaret is ironing John George's clean nappies.

Sheila tells her mother-in-law that the children seem to be right at home in Wales, and that she herself felt like a stranger when she visited them.

Later, in the living room, Jean is waiting up for Robert, but Edwin urges her to come to bed—insisting that she cannot keep her youngest from growing up.

"Where can he be?" she asks. "He is still a baby."

A Street in Liverpool   Robert and Fred are whistling in the midnight darkness as they follow two giggling teenage girls to the air-raid shelter.

The Ashton Home   Jean is frying a slice of bread for Robert's breakfast when he pops into the kitchen in his robe, confessing that he was out late last night.

His mother tells him that she heard him arrive back home at twenty minutes past midnight.

Robert assures her that he and Fred were only tracking a couple of judies—just larking, that's all.

Jean takes Edwin aside and makes him promise to have a father-to-son talk with Robert when he returns home from work that afternoon.

Margaret asks Freda about Peter Collins, a nice young man who is interested in her, but Freda is non-committal in her reply.

Later that day, Peter is helping Edwin remove a metal gate for the scrap drive.

Noticing that Peter is eyeing the house wistfully, Edwin invites him inside to wash his hands.

Unaware that Peter is in the kitchen, Freda peeks her head through the serving window—but only long enough to say that she is about to leave for her job at the hotel.

The young man is dejected, but Edwin tells him not to give up hope in his prospects for Freda.

Encouraged, Peter resolves to ring her at the hotel, and he asks Edwin to let her know that he will be telephoning soon.

Robert is about to meet Fred again for a night out, but Jean stops him at the front door, saying that his father wants to have a talk with him.

Bumbling nervously, Edwin tries to caution his son about the facts of life.

Robert tells him not to worry, that they learn all about such things at school.

He even loans his father a book entitled Facts About Sex.

A Train Station   Sefton is waiting to pick up his son, who is coming home on leave from the Navy.

Upon arrival, Tony hands his father a gift, which delights Sefton momentarily—until he learns that it is not for him but for Margaret's baby.

Both Sefton and Tony are aware that there is no news yet about John Porter.

The Ashton Home   Edwin questions Freda about Peter Collins, but Freda seems disinterested in the topic.

The telephone rings, and it is Sefton, who invites Edwin to bring Jean along for dinner at a nice restaurant, a celebration for Tony's return home.

Sefton Park   Robert is wheeling John George in the pram, but he pauses to sit down on a bench next to an elderly Irish woman.

The woman mistakenly thinks that the baby is Robert's, so he explains to her that the father is in the Army—missing, presumed killed.

The Briggs Home   Over drinks, Tony and Sefton are discussing the Navy life, and they exchange sharp words about having respect for the King's uniform.

For the past four months, Tony has been stationed at HMS King Alfred on Whale Island, and soon he will be returning to Portsmouth for a gunnery course.

"They turn us out like sausages—sublieutenants," he scoffs. "It's the lowest form of life, you know."

Sefton informs Tony that he will continue supporting him with a hefty allowance to his account.

Then he reveals that he plans to take him out to dinner with Edwin and Jean that very night, and he makes Tony promise to wear his uniform for the occasion.

The Ashton Home   Running late, as usual, Jean and Edwin hurry to their dinner engagement.

Robert urges Freda and Margaret to go out too, offering to stay home with the baby.

The Towers Restaurant   Sefton has been showing Tony off to a prominent estate agent named Cobham, and Jean discloses that she and his wife, now Mrs. Jessie Cobham, used to teach at Bellchambers School together.

When Sefton takes Jean over to meet the Cobhams, Tony and Edwin wonder whether this dinner was just another business opportunity for Sefton.

Edwin reveals to Tony that he has received an offer to work elsewhere, but he does not think he will accept it.

Tony confides that the shaky relationship with his father has only improved on the surface—and that he is not sure whether there is anything underneath the surface at all.

The Ashton Home   Margaret and Freda return from the cinema (The Good Earth with Paul Muni) and see that Sheila is at home, keeping Robert company.

Robert has cooked a meal for his sisters, and he also managed to change John George while the ladies were away.

For that, Freda calls him "a clever little lad," and Robert is quite hurt by the remark, so Freda hurries after him to apologise.

Margaret informs Sheila that Robert soon will be going to war and that, despite his mother's dread, his father probably will not try to stand in his way.

"It's breaking up everything, this war," says Sheila. "What are we going to be left with in the end?"

The Turk's Head   David, Susan, and Philip are discussing the inevitability of war, and Sheila tells David that he might understand the situation better if he had children of his own.

When Susan leaves for a moment, David assures Philip that he has no romantic intentions, not being in her social class.

He concedes, "She's more your type."

The Ashton Home   Freda shows her mother the hip flask she bought as a family gift for Tony.

She informs her that she has a date with Peter that night, and Jean is pleased to hear it.

Freda says everyone seems to be pushing her into a serious relationship with him, but she is reluctant to do so, sensing that she ought to feel something.

She adds that she is not yet ready for marriage—not with Peter anyway—but that does not seem to be stopping her mother from making the preliminary arrangements.

The NAAFI   Philip returns a telephone call to Susan, who asks him whether they could meet that night.

The Briggs Home   Jean arrives and gives her brother the gift for Tony.

Noticeably upset, Sefton informs her that Tony already has departed for Portsmouth, having left an impersonal farewell note behind.

Sefton tells Jean that Tony's two days at home would have been more like a funeral than a celebration, were it not for that dinner of smoked salmon and champagne.

"It makes you wonder what we bring them up for," he laments, and Jean says, "So that they can go away and fight."

The Ashton Home   Margaret and her youngest brother are playing with the baby.

Robert reveals to her that when he comes home on leave in two months, it will be his last visit before going off to sea.

An Ice Cream Parlour   Eating their ice cream, Freda and Peter ponder whether to go to a picture or the dance.

When Peter asks for her preference, Freda tells him to be the boss, that she just feels like being taken out.

The Turk's Head   Philip and Susan are chatting over drinks, and she asks him to confirm something she suspects—that David is married.

They talk about David's disinterest in school and his need for chasing women.

Susan admits that David seems to be keen on her but claims that she only sees him as a friend of her late husband's.

The Ashton Home   Freda brings cups of tea for herself and Peter, and he takes this opportunity to move alongside her on the sofa.

She recoils when he puts his arm around her, and he becomes upset at the rejection.

He says it is time they came to an understanding, something she has never been willing to do.

When he kisses her, Freda retreats to the chair, declaring that she does not want to be "tied down."

Peter says he only wants to go out more often, and she reluctantly agrees to that.

With that in mind, he asks for another date with her, but she becomes so evasive that he snaps, "I can take a hint," and begins to leave.

Freda tries to ease Peter's heartache by inviting him to ring her at the hotel, but he walks away without so much as another word.

Robert has given Margaret a stuffed toy bear for John George to have when he grows older.

Ever the doting uncle, Robert says he wants to put her down for an allowance, once he has finished his schooling and gone to sea.

Margaret cannot accept this generous offer, especially on his paltry pay as an apprentice, so Robert insists on putting her down as his next of kin.

Mindful of Margaret's solemn face, he tries to lift her spirits by inviting her to a posh tea shop.

"I’ll pay," he pledges, quickly hurrying to the kitchen to borrow ten bob from his mother.

The Turk's Head   Philip tells Susan that his unit will be going overseas before long—nothing confirmed, but they can feel it.

David arrives, a bit shocked to see his brother and Susan so friendly over drinks.

A brief argument ensues, during which David accuses Philip of reminiscing about his college days or quoting poetry.

David storms away, feeling betrayed, but Philip stops him at the door.

When Philip explains that he expects to be shipping out soon, David's anger subsides at once.

Philip invites him back to the table, but David says, "Two's company, three's none."

He gives Philip a fraternal embrace and then, with a warm smile, turns to go.

The Ashton Home   Robert is packed and ready to leave, but first he gives his mother a hug and kiss, saying, "Don't worry, Mum."

With sea bag over his shoulder, he walks down the street, stopping once to call back, "Goodbye, Mum."

She waves as he disappears from view.

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