Silhouettes of First World War soldiers are appearing in cathedrals across the country as we begin to draw closer to commemorating the end of the centenary of the First World War.
There But Not There is a nationwide campaign to place a representative figure for the names on a local war memorial in significant places across the country – and it has the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
These transparent Tommy figures stand with their heads bowed, rifle in hand and a poppy on their chest, as a poignant reminder of the 888,246 British and Commonwealth soldiers who died and of those who survived but suffered physical and mental scars.
The silhouettes will raise funds for a new charity called Remembered – which aims to raise £15million for Armed Forces and mental health charities.
In Carlisle, the Tommy silhouette looking through to one of the memorials in the Border Regiment Chapel – became part of a Love, Pray, Remember campaign earlier this year when hundreds of visitors wrote prayer cards to loved ones to coincide with the Weeping Poppies installation at the nearby Castle. The prayers were offered up every Thursday at evening prayer and the campaign will run again this Remembrance.
In Ripon – Two life size ‘Tommy silhouettes’ have been standing at Ripon’s war memorial near the High Altar and were moved this week to the entrance to the Quire for the launch of the cathedral’s Season of Remembrance which started on Wednesday with Evensong.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson said:
“The cathedral is the focus of much of this military city’s Season of Remembrance. This is a place that housed a camp of thousands of troops preparing to go to the Western Front. ”
A life sized Tommy will appear in St Edmundsbury Cathedral on November 4 for its performance of Crimson Glory – a unique event that tells the story of a young Suffolk soldier in the Great War through music, drama, dance, art and video.
Sheffield Cathedral’s Tommy will be a fixture in the Chapel of St George – the cathedral’s military chapel until November 25 and has been sponsored by BHP Chartered Accountants.
A Tommy will appear at Coventry Cathedral a key points during Remembrance tide – and for the anniversary of its bombing during the Second World War on 14 November when it will hold a Requiem Mass.
Portsmouth Cathedral is home to six pew silhouettes and has been marking Remembrance 100 with daily prayers – along with Blackburn and Birmingham Cathedrals – remembering when, on August 4 1918, King George V called for a National Day of Prayer. 100 days later peace was declared. Portsmouth is using those 100 days to focus on the 84 people from Old Portsmouth who served and died during the First World War, and whose names are inscribed on its war memorial.
Lichfield Cathedral’s six foot life-sized Tommy silhouette can be found in St Michael’s Chapel, dedicated in 1926 as the chapel of the Staffordshire Regiment (now the Mercian Regiment). It is part of its year-long Imagine Peace campaign that has seen a programme of arts, worship, music and lectures to mark the Armistice year.
Canterbury Cathedral has also delivered a programme of arts and worship events to mark the Armistice year – including a half term project this October to create poppies for the Canterbury War Horse. Tommy silhouettes will be on display in the Quire and in St Michael’s Chapel, a memorial chapel to the former East Kent regiment known as the Buffs. Pic attached.
Other cathedrals supporting the campaign with a Tommy figure include Exeter, Rochester, Leicester, St Albans, Southwell and Bristol which will have a Tommy silhouette at its main entrance paid for by the City Council as part of the Poppies on the Green installation.
There But Not There is a campaign led by former British Army officer, Lord Dannatt.
“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.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby added:
“I do commend this creative and imaginative project very warmly. I hope that many churches will want to engage with this during this next year.
“As we commemorate the end of the First World War it is vital that we remember and this project allows us to do so in a way that will engage with the imagination and be a real exercise in remembrance.”