THE figure of the British Tommy – clad in steel helmet and ordering arms, often with head bowed – is one of the most haunting and enduring images of the First World War.
It has appeared in pictures and on war memorials, and is now the basis for a series of silhouette figures to help the nation mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Tameside Armed Services Community (TASC) is to receive 10 of the shadow soldiers from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund.
The 6ft Tommies are at the heart of a campaign and nationwide art installation called “There but Not There” led by Lord Dannatt, a former head of the British Army (chief of the general staff).
There are three aims – to commemorate, educate and heal – and the project hopes to raise at least £15 million for armed services and mental-health charities.
During September, the ghostly figures will start to appear at community venues across Tameside. They have already been seen at sites such as the Tower of London, Tynecastle Park in Edinburgh, and the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
TASC chair Jack Millin, who served in the RAF in the Second World War, said: “Almost a million British and Commonwealth personnel died in the First World War and it was only due to the incredible sacrifice of all who served in the forces that Britain was able to emerge victorious after four years of horror.
“The Tommy figures, which, quite appropriately, are made by military veterans working for Royal British Legion Industries, supply a simple yet stark reminder of the way every community in the British Isles, including those in Tameside, was affected for all time by the so-called war to end all wars.
“I look forward to seeing them in the borough. I’m sure the sight of those poignant silhouettes will make sure we never forget what was done on our behalf 100 years ago.”
Lord Dannatt added: “The poppies at the Tower of London captured the start of the national First World War commemoration. ‘There but Not There’ will be the abiding concluding image.”
For more information about the “There but Not There” campaign visit www.therebutnotthere.org.uk
For more information on Tameside Armed Services Community visit www.tamesideasc.org.uk
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