In 1995 Robb Johnson was doing some gigs in Belgium and met Piet Chielens. Piet later became the director of the Ieper In Flanders Fields Museum, but in 1995 he was mainly involved in organising annual Peace Concerts in Passendale to remember the 1917 Third Battle of Ypres. When he learned that both of Robb’s grandfathers had served on the Western Front in the First World War, he asked about their units. Robb’s paternal grandfather, Ernest Isaac Johnson, had served in the 6th London Field Ambulance, and Henry ‘Harry’ Robert Jenner, his maternal grandfather, had been in the Post Office Rifles. Piet knew that both units had been present at the Third Battle of Ypres, and one weekend in November 1996, trudging across a muddy field in the Ardennes together, he asked Robb if he would write a song suite about his grandfathers for the 1997 Peace Concert. And so Gentle Men was born.

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