Conceived and created by artist Rob Heard in collaboration with SSAFA Devon, ‘Lost Lives’ is a unique exhibition to commemorate the Fallen on each day of the First World War and to show the true cost of the conflict. Rob is well known for his 19240 and Trench exhibitions commemorating the Battle of the Somme and will be laying out 72,396 shrouds at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London from 8th-18th November 2018 for the Centenary of the Armistice.
The Lost Lives exhibition is a simple but challenging installation that generates powerful emotions and gives a graphic sense of the large numbers killed. One shrouded figure, hand stitched by Rob, is laid out to represent each of the 1,561 days of the First World War and records on a small plaque the number lost on each day. The daily record of lost lives highlights the scale of the conflict that saw 983,779 killed from the British Empire. The worst day of the War was on 1 July 1916 when 19,240 were killed at the Battle of the Somme.
Lost Lives is currently on display at the CWGC Thiepval Memorial in France until 5th November 2018 when it will be brought back to London as part of the installation at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Watch BBC Breakfast when John Maguire went with Shrouds artist Rob Heard to visit the exhibit at Thiepval:
The losses for each year are: The casualties by nation are:
1914 36,780 Australia 62,149
1915 150,881 Canada 64,996
1916 235,457 India 73,905
1917 292,860 New Zealand 18,166
1918 263,227 Newfoundland 1,570
. South Africa 9,726
. UK 744,000
Casualty statistics for World War I vary to a great extent. Military casualties reported in official sources list deaths due to all causes, including killed or died of wounds, accidents, and disease.
The exhibition has great educational value as laying out 1561 plaques and figures for each day of the war and highlighting the campaigns shows the scale of the war and enables people to connect with individual dates, particular battles or be mesmerised by the enormity of the daily and monthly losses over 52 months of war. It also facilitates discussion about military history, ethics and the impact of the war.
Some of the major battles highlighted:
23 Aug 1914 Battle of Mons
26 Aug 1914 Battle of Le Cateau
22 Sep 1914 Loss of 3 RN ships
19-22 Oct 1914 1st Battle of Ypres
1 Nov 1914 Battle of Coronel
17 Feb 15 –9 Jan 1916 Gallipoli Campaign
22-25 Apr 1915 2nd Battle of Ypres
25 Sep – 8 Oct 1915 Battle of Loos
31 May -1 Jun 1916 Battle of Jutland
1 July – 18 Nov 1916 Battle of the Somme
9 Apr -16 May 1917 Battle of Arras
7-14 June 1917 Battle of Messines
31 Jul -10 Nov 1917 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)
20 Nov -6 Dec 1917 Battle of Cambrai
21 Mar -5 Apr 1918 German Spring Offensive
9-29 Apr 1918 Operation Georgette
8 Aug – 11 Nov 1918 Hundred Day Offensive
Displayed in Exeter from 30 Jun – 8 July 2018, the exhibition drew over 15,000 people and generated some powerful comments from the public:
A fitting tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice
A very poignant and thought provoking exhibit
Very emotional but very educational for young and old
A very humbling and powerful exhibition
A fantastic way to display the sheer volume of the many thousands lost
SSAFA was there throughout the First World War and continues to support serving personnel, veterans and their dependents today by offering practical, emotional and financial support through a network of trained volunteers and professional staff