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Thiepval Memorial

Visitor Information Panel at the Thiepval Memorial

30 June 2014

The personal stories of men who died during one of the most costly battles of the First World War will come to life from 30 June. Capitalising on innovative smartphone technology, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will be unveiling 21st century signage at its largest war memorial in the world - the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, in France.

Among the stories revealed is that of Jonathan George Skipper, who worked as a postman in Great Yarmouth before the war. He was married to Gertrude, and was a father of five children, aged between one and fourteen when he was killed while serving as a rifleman with the London Regiment of the Post Office Rifles on 7 October 1916. Two weeks previously, he had sent his last letter home to his family: 

'Mr Dear Little Children, 

Just a few lines to you all hoping you're all well and getting on fine at school...I am with all the dear soldiers that came back safe after the terrible battle, some are like me got little children at home so they are pleased God has spared them once moreā€¦don't see any little children where I am only soldiers...

God bless you all and keep you from danger.
Two kisses each xx xx xx xx xx'

The interactive CWGC Visitor Information Panels at The Thiepval Memorial will be unveiled on 30 June, the eve of events to commemorate the Battle of the Somme, by Mr Carl Liversage, the CWGC's Project Manager for the Centenary of the First World War in Western
Europe. Also present will be representatives from the British Embassy in Paris and the Sous Prefet of the Somme. 

Mr Liversage said: "As we approach the Centenary of the Great War our plans to mark that
sacrifice and to engage new generations in the importance of these events are taking shape. 

"These panels are part of that process - a global initiative that will help visitors gain an
understanding of why these memorials exist, why it is important to visit them and maintain them, and who these men and women were. 

"Today, thanks to the innovative use of smartphone technology, visitors to this site can also get a sense of the human stories behind the names carved in stone. 

"This initiative and these stories will help bring home to all of us the great sacrifice made by the servicemen and women who went away to fight in two world wars. They are a powerful way of combining traditional forms of remembrance, with new technology, to ensure we never forget - a commemoration that will capture the imagination of all generations and communities - one that allows them to pay respect, to visit, to be moved
and to learn." 

The panels at Thiepval are among 500 to be installed at CWGC locations worldwide.  Each of the panels feature information about the site of the cemetery and a QR (Quick Response) code.  When scanned with a smartphone, the QR Code provides access for further information including the personal stories of some of the casualties buried or commemorated there.

Click here for the full media release.