23rd May, 2017

Warwickshire Somme fallen stitched into history

Leamington Editorial 23rd Jun, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

MORE than 400 Warwickshire soldiers who fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme will be remembered as part of a commemorative art project.

The 19240 Shrouds of the Somme exhibition aims to recognise all 19,240 allied soldiers – including 434 from the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers – who died during the 1916 battle, which is known for being one of the bloodiest of the First World War.

Exactly 100 years to the day on from the battle, at the same time as the whistle was blown to ‘go over the top’, 19,240 hand-stitched shrouded figures representing every soldier will be laid out in Exeter’s Northernhay Gardens.

Every fallen man’s name has been marked by the artist Rob Heard, who used seven volumes of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s lists to ensure each soldier who died was remembered correctly.

As each shroud was made, Rob crossed each soldier’s name off the list.

And now the team behind the exhibition, which runs from July 1 to 7, are appealing for volunteers to help.

Group Captain Robin Chambers, representing the Armed Forces charity SSAFA, who will benefit from the project, said: “SSAFA was there in 1916 to support the families of those who fell at the Somme and, since 1885 we have supported all service personnel and their families.

“The Shrouds of the Somme exhibition captures the brutality and emotional impact of service life and, as an all-volunteer charity, we are honoured to be asked to supervise the exhibition.

“We expect the exhibition to be very popular and as such, we are recruiting volunteers to assist us in interacting with the public, reading the names of the fallen and selling the shrouds.

“We would encourage people to get involved in this very special way of remembering our fallen soldiers.”

The team behind the project also hope the project will create a lasting legacy commemorating those who fell. They are asking for the public to upload photos, stories, and memories of those who died to help build a better picture of them.

Visit www.thesomme19240.co.uk for further details.