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  #1  
Old 8th July 2016
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19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Yesterday I took a trip down to Exeter to see one of the "pop-up" memorials for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. It is called 19240 Shrouds, and contains 19240 figures wrapped in hand-stitched cotton shrouds, one for each of the recorded Allied casualties on the first day of the battle. Details here:

http://www.thesomme19240.co.uk/

It was very moving, almost overwhelming. I won't repeat what the website says about it, here are a few rather simple photos. A general view of part of the field of figures - the statue on the left is one of Exeter's permanent war memorials:



19, 240 is an awful lot of bodies:





There were quite a few people around, including some school parties:





As well as the visual impact of the thousands of figures, there was a discreet soundtrack of songs, poems and commentary from the time. Over that, somebody was reading through the list of names of the dead, just a simple mention like "Private Bert Jones, Berkshire Rifles, aged 19". The woman in the hi-viz at the lectern bottom left is on the reading shift:



Hearing all the names became quite hypnotic after a while. I worked out that if you read them out at one every five seconds for 24 hours non-stop, you would get through about three-quarters of them such was the scale of the carnage.

I'm not sure whether this one works, or could be made to work better with a bit more processing (this is pretty much straight). It's through the netting under the walkway at the top end and I think it has quite an oppressive feel:



A very moving touch was that many of the figures next to the paths had been decorated with flowers. I asked a steward about this and he said that visitors started doing it spontaneously in private acts of remembrance:





All shot with the E-M1 and 14-150 Mk II, as if it matters.

Sombre John
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Old 8th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Thanks for posting these shots John. I didn't know anything about this but I looked at the link you provided and it is an extremely ambitious and effective memorial to the horrific event. It must be a remarkable thing to see and you have captured it well with your photographs. What happens to the figures when the event is over?

Ron
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Old 8th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Heart stopping thoughts when you look at the space and consider these are about 8 inches in size at a guess. The area for all the full size remains of brave young men following orders is a frightening thought and it was all for a small area of land.

Thanks for recording this and sharing it with us.

Wee Man
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Old 8th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wee man View Post
Heart stopping thoughts when you look at the space and consider these are about 8 inches in size at a guess. The area for all the full size remains of brave young men following orders is a frightening thought and it was all for a small area of land.

Thanks for recording this and sharing it with us.

Wee Man
I agree with that.
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Old 8th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Very moving. Thanks.
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Old 8th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Thanks for your comments, it was a very powerful experience. It was only there for a week, I just managed to catch it on the last day.

These figures are about a foot long - what is even more sobering is that they represent the casualties from only one side in only the first day of a battle that went on for more than four months.

Ron - the figures are being sold, the "shop" section of the website has details. I missed out on a ceramic poppy so I might order one of these.

John
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Old 9th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Massive, amazing, gut wrenching, horrifying - it certainly conveys the stark reality of war.
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Old 9th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

The only image to match the anguish of these is the scene of crosses at the end of the film " Oh, What a lovely War! ". both show the absolute futility of war to the common man.
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Old 9th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

That has always haunted me since seeing in the paper as a kid (assuming I'm thinking of the same one, of course). That is what the third shot here is about.

Thanks, and to Mark, for the comments.

John
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Old 9th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Tears in my eyes as I write this.. Thanks for the post.
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Old 11th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Very moving, there is nothing worse than man's inhumanity to man, thanks for sharing this with us.

Tom
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Old 12th July 2016
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Re: 19240 Shrouds (image-heavy)

Thanks David and Tom.

I'm sure there are/were other similar memorials around the place. We had some of the "We are here" silent soldiers here on 1st. July - https://becausewearehere.co.uk/ - but I managed to miss it. Friends who saw them around town said it was very powerful.

John
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