Shrouds of the Somme figurines mark WW1 battle anniversary (BBC News)
26 January 2016

Rob Heard WW1 figurines projectEach wooden figurine has a shroud sewn onto it by the artist (Image copyright Steven Haywood)

An artist has set out to create thousands of figurines in memory of soldiers killed during the first four hours of the Battle of the Somme.

Rob Heard is hand-stitching shrouds onto 19,240 wooden figures to represent each man who died in the notorious World War One battle.

He aims to complete the project before the 100th anniversary of the British Army’s “bloodiest day” on 1 July.

Mr Heard said it was a “mammoth task” but he was confident he would succeed.

So far, about 5,600 have been made, with 100 figurines completed each day.

After completing each figure, Mr Heard, from Washford, Somerset, crosses a name off a list of those who died.

‘Very intensive’

“It’s very important that each one is associated with a name and I have all the names here on a board, alphabetically listed.

“As I go through the process of putting the figures within shrouds I cross the name off but it’s vitally important it gets associated with the name because the individual gets lost in the numbers.”

Battle of the Somme figurines - list of soldiers who diedEach figurine is linked to a soldier who died in the first four hours of the Battle of the Somme
Image copyright Steven Haywood
Rob Heard with WW1 figurinesArtist Rob Heard has completed 5,600 figurines so far
Image copyright Steven Haywood

“I can do it, it’s not a laborious task – it’s like looking at the sea, you can do it for hours,” added Mr Heard.

“It’s very intensive and for me it can be quite painful, the way I go about it but I’m very doggedly confident I will get there.”

During the Battle of the Somme, 100,000 Allied soldiers went “over the top” to face the German army on the slopes around Thiepval and Beaumont Hamel in the valley of the River Somme.

The figurines are set to go on display at Northernhay Gardens in Exeter and may also go on tour around the country.

Rob Heard WW1 figurines projectThe aim is to complete the project for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme
Image copyright Steven Haywood
Rob Heard WW1 figurines projectMr Heard wanted to link each figure with a soldier who died in the early stages of the battle
Image copyright Steven Haywood