Please see below the answers to our frequently asked questions. Here, you will find the answers about our events, including group bookings and timings/locations for the installations, the artist Rob Heard, how the shrouds are made and more. If you still cannot find the answer to your query, please contact us and we will get back to you in due course.
Where/when can I see the Shrouds?
Our final event will be in London, when all 72,396 Shrouds will be laid out together for the first and only time
8th–18th November around the Centenary of Armistice Day at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, by the ArcelorMittal Orbit E20 2AD
More details including opening times and directions found here: https://www.shroudsofthesomme.com/events/
Do I have to pay to visit the shrouds?
All of our events are FREE entry but there will be opportunity to donate to the project on the day of your visit via the donation buckets.
Do large groups need to book?
Yes for London – schools need to book their place by visiting here: http://www.shroudsofthesomme.com/schools-programme/school-visits/
Large groups do not need to book a time slot for London, but if arriving by coach, they need to book their parking space by getting in touch with Lydia – email Lydiatickner@londonlegacy.co.uk
Is this for charity?
Profits from the Shrouds of the Somme project will be donated to:
SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity – Providing practical, emotional and financial support to servicemen, veterans and their families in times of need for 130 years
Commonwealth War Graves Foundation – Helping communities collect, spread and honour the stories of the men and women who gave their all
Can I buy a shroud?
Yes you can pre-order one of the shrouds from www.shroudsofthesomme.com/shop You can choose an unframed or framed version and for the second option you can select a specifically named serviceman from the 72,396. Delivery is expected early 2019.
How else can I support the project?
As well as donations on the day of your visit and purchasing a shroud, you can also support the project in the following ways:
Donate online – https://www.sponsorme.co.uk/sotmsotm/shrouds-of-the-somme.aspx
What does the number 72,396 represent?
Commonwealth servicemen, primarily British but also 829 South African infantrymen plus a small number from US, NZ, Aus, CAN fighting for British Units who were killed on the Somme battlefields between 1916-1918 who have no known grave – either they were blown to pieces or were buried where they fell or are in mass unmarked graves.
Because their bodies were never recovered, their names are engraved on the Thiepval Memorial in northern France – the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world.
The number of men commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Thiepval Memorial has changed since it was unveiled in 1932, and is still changing: when remains are found and identified, or when research identifies men who should be named on Thiepval or moved from Thiepval to a different memorial. An artwork like Rob’s requires a set and unchanging number; his list was compiled in March 2017 and has 72,396 names.
Why is Rob Heard doing this single-handedly, why can’t other people help him?
This installation is a piece of art, created by one artist Rob Heard. The process that he goes through, of beginning with a name taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, taking a figure, placing it in a calico shroud and carefully binding that shroud around the figure is transformative.
“It is important that each figure, each man has his moment in time, and that one person does this, it happens to be me, but it must be one person”
Rob began this project after a serious car accident 4 years ago, both his hands were seriously hurt and he has had to have a number of operations on them. He still wears a brace support much of the time. It is probably fair to say that Rob’s hands hurt most of the time. But this also forms part of the reason for him doing the project. After his accident a way of dealing with the depression was to acknowledge that his injuries were minor compared to those servicemen and women who came back from wars with lost limbs or worse. Rob understands suffering, and this is his way of putting his own into the context of the far greater suffering of the millions of men and women who have fought and who have struggled and continue to struggle due to mental or physical injury today.
How long has it taken Rob to make the shrouded figures?
In 2013 Rob started creating the 19,240 shrouded figures to represent those killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme (1 July 1916). 12,400 of those killed on the first day are also missing on the Somme. He started the additional 60,000 in Nov 2016 and estimates the process to create the 72,396 will take him around 15,000 hours.
What are the shrouded figures made of?
Calico shrouds are hand stitched by artist Rob Heard and tied over specially made plastic jointed figures, their joints are very flexible and loose, which means that as Rob places them into the shroud and stitches and binds them, each figure moves into its own unique shape
Is anything being done for schools?
Shrouds of the Somme is working with Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Foundation, UCL Special Collections and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, all of whom are offering expertise in communication and education. Read more on our schools page.
Contact Vicky Price firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the schools programme.
Can I send in details of a relative?
Yes, a digital archive of the 72,396 missing of the Somme has been created by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. You can submit photos and stories here: blog.cwgc.org/thiepval-stories/
How is this project being funded?
The Shrouds project is being run on a tight budget by a tiny team with no government or substantial funding, but an incredible level of in kind support from partners including DHL, Volker Fitzpatrick, Imagination, QEOP, CWGC and West Ham as well as generous support from members of the public.
We are registered as a CIC (Community Interest Company) and as Shrouds of the Somme Foundation under Charities Trust which can accept charitable donations here: www.sponsorme.co.uk/sotmsotm/shrouds-of-the-somme Sales of the individual shrouds also provides a revenue stream and hopefully a significant profit for the two charities. They can be purchased from our shop page.
What about the shrouds already sold in the 2016 exhibitions?
Some shrouds were sold in the 19,240 exhibitions in 2016, which represented every serviceman killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Those named shrouds that were sold and who are also in the 72,396 will not be replaced – they have found their homes. 278 of those sold are both named and in the 72,396 to be displayed in London – their places will be marked with a wooden block as they were in Bristol.
Can I still purchase a badge?
Yes, the badges are now available from our online shop and can be found here.
Is my badge linked to a specific solider?
The badge numbers represent the 72,396 listed on the Thiepval Memorial – the number on your badge is not a service number. They are numbered from 1 – 72,396 and we are unable to allocate specific numbers.