AN interview with a North-East First World War veteran who saw his best friend die in the trenches will be shown on television tomorrow.

George Littlefair was an 18- year-old farm worker when he signed up in 1914, against the dying wishes of his mother.

He told documentary makers: “She said, ‘There’s a war on now, young boy, so don’t join the Army’.

“Those were her last words to me. And what did I do? I joined the damned Army.”

Over the past 15 years, TV production company Testimony Films has interviewed about 100 British First World War veterans, including Mr Littlefair, most of whom have since died.

The war veterans’ stories of courage, sacrifice and tragedy have been brought together for the first time for a new six-part series on the History Channel, called Last Voices of World War I, to coincide with 90 years of Remembrance.

Mr Littlefair, who was born in 1896 and lived at Eldon, near Bishop Auckland, until his death aged 102 in 1998, features in tomorrow night’s first episode, The Call to Arms.

He had signed up to the Army at the outbreak of First World War with his best friend Joe Coates, both of whom were teenagers.

“I had a pal in the Army and we were the best of pals together,”

said Mr Littlefair, who served in the 18th Durham Light Infantry “We had our ups and downs between us, but still we were always good pals. We helped one another.”

He described the moment he saw Joe get killed by shrapnel as they went over the top into No Man’s Land, and how he always regretted never being able to stay with him and say goodbye.

“I knew what had happened, and down he went,”

said Mr Littlefair.

“I groaned, but that was it, I had to get on because another wave (of Allied soldiers) was coming behind us.

“If I’d had time to lift his head to try to talk to him, that’s what I would have tried to do. But you had to keep going. Either that, or you would get trampled on. We didn’t even say so long to one another.”

■ Last Voices of World War I starts at 6pm tomorrow, on The History Channel.