Ghostly figures of First World War soldiers are starting to appear across the UK as part of an art installation marking the centenary of the end of the First World War. The campaign aims to raise at least £15 million for armed forces and mental health charities.
The six foot high Tommies are part of a nationwide art installation called ‘There But Not There’. The campaign is led by former Chief of the General Staff, Lord Dannatt and supported by Birdsong novelist, Sebastian Faulks. It is run by the charity Remembered, which aims to educate all generations about why they so many made the ultimate sacrifice, and to raise funds to help heal those suffering from the hidden wounds of war.
The silhouette Tommies have already begun appearing at:
- Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, South Wales
- in sentry boxes usually staffed by Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London
- on Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland
- at Heart of Midlothian Football Club in Edinburgh.
The Tommies will be touring the country until Armistice Day.
Sales of commemorative figures
The charity Remembered is encouraging members of the public to buy their own 10 inch versions of the Tommies to remember their own relatives. The figures are made by military veterans.
Funds raised from their sale will be distributed evenly between:
- The Royal Foundation: Heads Together
- Walking With The Wounded
- Combat Stress
- Help for Heroes: Hidden Wounds
- The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation
- Project Equinox: Housing Veterans.
Host your own Tommy
In addition to the touring Tommies, local community groups will be given the opportunity to host their own ‘silhouette installations’. Village halls, schools, places of worship, businesses and other groups can all apply to host one.
These silhouettes have a different shape to the touring, standing Tommy. They are designed to fit into seated spaces.
They were inspired by an art installation by Martin Barraud at Penshurst Church in Kent in 2016. The installation at Penshurst Church included 51 silhouettes, one for each name on the local Penshurst war memorial.
Remembered suggests communities might like to honour the fallen on their own local war memorials, by placing a silhouette for every man that fell in local community spaces.
Novelist and There But Not There Ambassador Sebastian Faulks said: “One hundred years ago this country offered its best young men to the war. Many never returned. This nationwide campaign will honour those men at a local level – in the villages and towns from which they came.
“Just as Pals Battalions were formed from local offices, factories and schools, so each community now has the chance to remember its own. These haunting figures allow us to give thanks for the ultimate sacrifice these men made for our country.”
The Tower Poppies
Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff, was Constable of the Tower of London until July 2016. As such, in 2014, he oversaw the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation where 888,246 ceramic poppies were installed in the moat of the Tower of London.
As Patron of There But Not There, Lord Dannatt said: “The poppies at the Tower of London captured the start of the national WWI commemoration – There But Not There will be the abiding concluding image.”
He urged the public to support the campaign and its beneficiary charities. He said: “In buying the Tommies and silhouettes, people are not only commemorating the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers, they are also supporting the veterans of today, with all profits going to charities supporting the armed forces community.”
- Poppies made from shell casings to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme (1 July 2016)
- VAT waived on Tower poppies sales to boost fundraising income (6 November 2014)