Remembrance Sunday 2018:
There But Not There
This is the striking silhouette of a soldier that has recently been installed in the porch of Mathry Church.
Ghostly figures of First World War soldiers, or Tommies, have sprung up all over the UK as part of a new fundraising campaign hoping to raise in excess of £15 million for armed forces and mental health charities, including Walking With The Wounded.
These six-foot high Tommies are part of a nationwide art installation called There But Not There. The campaign marks 100 years since the end of the First World War and aims to commemorate all those who lost their lives. Tommy installations have appeared in sentry boxes usually manned by Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London, on Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, at Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, South Wales and at numerous other public sites. Members of the public are also being encouraged to buy their own ten-inch versions to remember their own relatives.
There But Not There Patron, Lord Dannatt said: ‘The poppies at the Tower of London captured the start of the national WWI commemoration – There But Not There will be the abiding concluding image.’ He continued: ‘In buying the Tommies and silhouettes, people are not only commemorating the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers, they are also supporting the veterans of today, with all profits going to charities supporting the armed forces community.’ Commenting on the campaign, WWTW Co-Founder and CEO, Ed Parker said: ‘The centenary of the Armistice marks a defining time in our history. So many people sacrificed so much in those war years and we must remember them. This project is a fitting memory to our forebears and Walking With The Wounded is honoured to be one of the beneficiaries of people’s generosity. While it is crucial we remember the past, we must not ignore the present, and as a charity we will continue to provide support to men and women who continue to serve on our behalf, particularly those who have struggled since they left the Armed Forces. There But Not There will help us do just that.’
We wish to thank Steve Stratton for his generous donation of a Tommy silhouette to Mathry church and village.
This is how British troops got the nickname ‘Tommies’
How British troops came to be called Tommy has a longer history than why German troops were known as Jerry (short for German, but also because their helmets looked like chamber pots). One theory says Tommy originated with the Duke of Wellington who made it the nickname in 1843. But the Imperial War Museum has found evidence of Tommy more than a century before Wellington supposedly coined it. During the British rule of Jamaica, researchers found a 1743 letter to the war office that reported a mutiny among mercenaries there, saying ‘Except for those from North America, ye Marines and Tommy Atkins behaved splendidly.’ By 1815, the British War Office was using the name Tommy Atkins as a generic term – a placeholder name – for sample infantry paperwork. An enlisting soldier unable to sign his name to his enlistment papers would make his mark – leaving the name Tommy Atkins spelled out where his real name should have been.