You may have seen on the TV news tonight pictures of the art installation at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffs. The whole installation is entitled ‘Somme en Masse’ and is part of the national commemoration for the battle of the Somme in 1916. The installation consists of 19,240 miniature ‘Tommies’, one for each British or Commonwealth soldier killed on the first day of the battle, 1st July 1916 some from our own area. The battle ended on 18th November and ceremonies are being held to mark the official end of the battle. One such is being held at the National Memorial Arboretum with the placing of the final 100 ‘Tommies’.

The local connection is that Scouts from 10th Ilkeston Scout Group in Stanley Common have painted 100 of the Tommies that have been installed, part of awareness raising of the sacrifices of the First World War and also part of the Scouts’ community engagement.

The ‘Tommies’ are painted on one side only; as you approach you see plain wooden figures with an outline of a ‘Tommy’ uniform. Returning, you see the reverse painted in designs and colours of the painter’s choice. It does look very effective and a photo can only show a small part of the installation but readers may be interested in the involvement of young people from our area.

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