Appeal to commemorate those who fell at the Battle of the Somme

Artist Rob Heard with a shrouded figure of the Somme. Picture: Steven Haywood.

Artist Rob Heard with a shrouded figure of the Somme. Picture: Steven Haywood.

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People are being asked to get involved in an unique and historic art project to commemorate those who fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Locals are invited to take part in a photographic and detailed legacy of all 19,240 Allied servicemen who lost their lives.

On July 1 this year at 7.30am, exactly 100 years since the whistle was blown to ‘go over the top’, 19,240 Shrouds of the Somme will be revealed laid out in Exeter’s Northernhay Gardens.

Each individual is represented by a hand-stitched shrouded figure and also has a digital record in ‘The Fallen’ on the Shrouds of the Somme website, courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Rob Heard, the artist who came up with the project, said: “We believe that in this age of digital technology we have a chance like never before of building up a photographic and detailed record of each of the servicemen who gave their lives on that tragic day.

“We want schools, communities, families and individuals to get involved in this unique legacy - let us know if you have photos, stories or memories of one of the 19,240, a relative or members of your community and send them in to us.

“We can use these to remember them as individuals rather than just names in many thousands of names and help future generations understand the real human cost of war.”

Schools are also being encouraged to engage their students in WWI research around local people who lost their lives that day and the impact the War had on their communities.

Their work will form a part of an exhibition to coincide with the 19240 Shrouds of the Somme and a schools open day on July 5.

Members of the public will be able to own their own piece of the Shrouds of the Somme.

The 19,240 shrouded figures can be pre-ordered framed or unframed, named or anonymous, from April 16 with number 00001 being auctioned by Flog It! star Paul Martin at the Centenary Dinner at Sandy Park, Exeter.

For more information visit www.thesomme192140.co.uk/the-fallen/