Haunting art honours the 1,475 brave Allied troops who died on D-Day standing like ghosts above beaches where they fell

Haunting art honours the 1,475 brave Allied troops who died on D-Day standing like ghosts above beaches where they fell

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LIKE ghosts, they stand above the beaches where they fell.

Exactly 1,475 soldiers, sailors and airmen under British command died on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as part of the battle to free France from Nazi occupation.

Amanda Walden

Silhouettes in honour of the 1,475 fallen soldiers are displayed to mark D-Day[/caption]

Arthur Edwards / The Sun

Oxfordshire builder Dan Barton, of the charity Standing With Giants, is behind the touching art[/caption]

Arthur Edwards / The Sun

Nurses Dorothy Field and Mollie Evershed are the only females whose names are carved on the memorial[/caption]

And now every one of those brave souls is represented by a silhouette, stood head bowed, in the long grass overlooking Gold Beach, one of five landing spots for the Allied invasion.

The figures are in front of the British Normandy Memorial, where 22,442 names of those who gave their lives in D-Day and the ensuing Battle of Normandy are carved for ever on three giant slabs of limestone.

Those who visit the memorial this week to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day will witness the true scale of the blood shed to liberate Western Europe.

Each silhouette was lovingly created by hundreds of volunteers in honour of those who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom.

The 2,000 visitors on Thursday, including King Charles and Queen Camilla, will also see life-like steel silhouettes of two women among those ranks of men.

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Nurses Dorothy Field and Mollie Evershed are the only two females whose names are carved on the memorial.

On August 7 they were tending the wounded on board hospital ship SS Amsterdam when an explosion ripped through it.

The 350ft converted passenger ferry had hit a German mine while the two-month-long Battle for Normandy raged on land.

As the ship began to sink, Matron Field, 32, and Sister Evershed, 27, helped get 75 patients into lifeboats. Last to leave was a soldier who had just had his leg amputated.

The heroic nurses went below to try to save the other 104 wounded men when the ship appeared to fold in two and sank just eight minutes after the explosion.


The touching People’s Tribute silhouettes are the brainchild of Oxfordshire builder Dan Barton, of the charity Standing With Giants.

‘Terribly sad’

Five years ago he put silhouettes of 101 World War One Tommies above the M40 near Oxford and since then he has created thousands of military figures, some of which have been displayed in the Falklands.

Dan, 56, says: “It’s hard work but it’s worth it because it’s so important to remember the reason we have our freedom.

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“A lot of people say, ‘Why are their heads bowed?’. It’s more of an act of remembrance, an act of prayer. But perhaps they are looking at their dead bodies on a battlefield, because they didn’t want to die.

“They had their whole lives to live. They had families. I often think, ‘What would they be doing if they hadn’t been killed?’. So many of them are so desperately young.

“It’s happening again around the world. So many people are losing their lives on a daily basis for what is a pretty pointless reason. So that’s terribly sad as well.”

It’s happening again around the world. So many people are losing their lives on a daily basis for what is a pretty pointless reason


Dan

For four years Dan and wife Janette have battled to honour our Normandy heroes, including remortgaging their home to raise £25,000 to build a workshop where volunteers from 80 organisations could create the military figures.

Dan says: “Even with hundreds of volunteers it has cost about £70,000 to get this over to Normandy.

“The pegs alone to keep the silhouettes in place should have been £24,000. We got a deal on them of £7,000.”

The couple and their sons Josh and Luke have devoted their lives for weeks to make the silhouettes.

Janette says: “We haven’t had any holidays or anything like that this year. It’s what we’ve been prepared to do to get the project to Normandy.

“The rewards have been incredible — I mean, just the feedback we’ve had from visitors when we’ve been at the memorial.

“We opened up the workshop for three months for 80 groups to come in and do a two-hour workshop with us to help paint and assemble the silhouettes.

“People’s involvement and their enthusiasm, their motivation, pushed us to make it a project for the people.

“We’ve called it the People’s Tribute For Your Tomorrow.

“So many people around the world are suffering, just like these guys suffered.

“We are so, so lucky to be in this country. We have so much that maybe we take for granted.”

The silhouettes are in front of the British Normandy Memorial
Arthur Edwards / The Sun

The brave souls are represented by a silhouette, stood head bowed, in the long grass overlooking Gold Beach[/caption]

Handout

Dorothy’s silhouette stands among those ranks of men[/caption]

Handout

Nurse Mollie also had a fitting tribute[/caption]

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