London

Shrouds of the Somme: Exhibit comes to Olympic Park

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Media caption72,396 shrouded figures were laid out in London's Olympic Park

Tens of thousands of shrouded figures are being laid out at London's Olympic Park to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

Each handmade 12-inch model represents one of the 72,396 British Commonwealth serviceman killed at the Somme with no known grave.

The figures go on public display at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from Thursday to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day.

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Image caption Volunteers and members of 1 Royal Anglian Regiment have taken three days to set up the Shrouds of the Somme installation at Olympic Park
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Image caption The figures cover 4,000 sq m of the park
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Image caption Artist Rob Heard spent the last five years hand crafting each figure

Volunteers and members of 1 Royal Anglian Regiment have taken three days to lay out the figures in formation across more than 4,000 sq m in the shadow of the London Stadium.

Artist Rob Heard, who spent the last five years hand-crafting each one, said: "These were individuals, not just a huge number. And that's so often forgotten.

"It came from trying to physicalise the large numbers that just trip off tongue."

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Image caption More than one million soldiers were killed or wounded during the Battle of the Somme

In total, more than one million soldiers were killed or wounded during the 1916 Battle of the Somme.

The battle, fought in northern France, lasted more than five months and became one of the bloodiest of the First World War.

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Image caption Each shrouded figure represents one soldier in approximately 1:6 scale

Mr Heard told BBC Radio London he started the project to help him recover from surgery following a traffic accident that left him with limited mobility and continuous pain in his right arm.

He said: "It started from a rather dark place, but it is good recovery for me."

The installation has toured the country after launching four years ago, focussing on the 19,240 who were killed on the first day of the Somme.

The Olympic Park exhibit is free and open to the public until 18 November.

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Image caption The figures are on display to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day

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