To mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, 72,396 shrouded figures will be laid out in rows, shoulder to shoulder to physically represent each of the British servicemen (+ 829 South African infantrymen) killed at the Battle of the Somme who have no known grave, many of whose bodies were never recovered from the battlefields.
BBC Breakfast covered the project in Nov 2017 and this short film gives a superb overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpuRXdDiJ1s
Opening 8-18 November 2018 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the display will be extraordinary in its impact and recognition of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Somerset artist Rob Heard is spending 15,000 hours hand-stitching shrouds and binding them onto each figure individually. He crosses the men’s names off a list sourced from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His aim in creating this installation is to give a better understanding of the scale of the losses; what those vast numbers mean, and to individually honour each man who gave his life, but who to this day has no known grave.
Jim Carter, star of Downton Abbey, recently became Patron of the shrouds, and described the installation as “the most moving and graphic depiction of the senseless death in the First World War that you can imagine.”
We will be engaging schools both in visiting the shrouds and researching the impact of the First World War on their local communities - telling the next generation.
We have teamed up with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to create a digital archive of photos and stories of these men to which anyone can contribute: a lasting legacy which will continue far beyond 2018: http://blog.cwgc.org/thiepval-stories/
Profits from the project will be donated to the following charities:
- SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity - delivering support to servicemen, veterans and their families when they most need it
- Commonwealth War Graves Foundation - helping communities collect, spread and honour the stories of the men and women the CWGC commemorates
If you would like to add the name of a specific soldier to your donation, please include details in the comment section at the next step. We will then add your name and the name of the soldier you wish to commemorate to our online supporters list. Or if you prefer you can remain anonymous.
There is lots more about the project on our website www.shroudsofthesomme.com