28 February 2018

CWGC supports launch of First World War Tommies campaign

A new art installation marking the centenary of the end of the First World War will be launched across the UK today (Wednesday).

There But Not There Tommies at CWGC Brookwood Military Cemetery

Tommies at the 1914-1918 Memorial at CWGC Brookwood Military Cemetery

Led by former Chief of the General Staff, General The Lord Dannatt, and supported by Birdsong novelist, Sebastian Faulks, the There But Not There campaign will see six foot high ‘Tommies’ - silhouettes of First World War soldiers - installed across the UK.

The Tommies will be touring the country until Armistice Day, as well as local communities hosting their own installations. Members of the public are also being encouraged to buy their own 10 inch versions to remember their relatives. The money raised from the sale of the commemorative figures, which are made by military veterans, will be distributed evenly between six charities including the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation.

The Foundation has also partnered with There But Not There as its education lead. The Foundation is spearheading the campaign’s educational programme, creating lesson plans, education packs and activities designed to get younger generations, born nearly 100 years after the outbreak of the First World War, to understand the sacrifice made by British and Commonwealth men and women.

CWGC Director General Victoria Wallace said: “Each one of the hundreds of thousands of white headstones in Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries around the world reflects a gap left in a community or family somewhere else in the world. Those names that we pass daily, on local war memorials, or on rolls of honour on the walls of churches, railway stations and schools, were all someone’s son, husband or father.

“This project is a brilliant reminder of the lives that were sacrificed for their countries, and the loss that was felt then, in places which are familiar to us all today. It’s a great way to keep their stories alive.”

Local community groups, such as schools, businesses, places of worship and village halls are also being given the opportunity to host their own ‘silhouette installations’, in memory of men and women lost from their communities.

The silhouettes, different in shape to the standing Tommy, are designed to fit into seated spaces and 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.

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.

“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.”

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