A new memorial sculpture commemorating the Battle of the Somme in 1916 has been designed by Dr Mike Pringle of Swindon Heritage, and created from battlefield finds.
Representing multiple nations that fought in the First World War, the seven foot cross of remembrance has been constructed by Stainless Supplies in Royal Wootton Bassett.Mike is in the process of finding an exhibition space for the sculpture at the time of going to press.
Mike said: “I have this image of the cross in a darkened setting with a single spotlight to illuminate it. Unfortunately, with summer coming there aren’t that many suitable dark places so we are looking at various venues and halls that can play host to the sculpture. However, if we could get the right setting for the cross I believe its poignancy and power will be very emotive.
“Although the cross is a piece of artistic design, it’s very eery. It is made of battlefield finds, and I tried to make sure every nation was represented. We have British, French, German, potentially some American artifacts and more besides. We are trying to illustrate that there were no victors in this war, only the victims.
Mike added: “I feel that sometimes with remembrance events, Swindon occasionally misses the boat and I wanted to make sure this time that we were seen to be commemorating the fallen as much as anywhere else. Swindon sacrificed so much during the First World War and I feel it’s so important to show that Swindon remembers.”
The impact of the Battle of the Somme was felt heavily on a local level because of the introduction of the ‘Pals battalions’, where groups of friends, colleagues, neighbours and sports teams signed up to fight together.
More than 100 soldiers from Swindon are commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves memorial at Thiepval towering over the Somme battlefield in Northern France, recording the names of men who fell but were never found to be buried.
Ninety five per cent were employees of the GWR Works.
As well as the Somme memorial cross, Dr Pringle is also working with Isambard School and the Orbital Shopping Centre in North Swindon to highlight the town’s aeronautical history.
Picture: Dr Mike Pringle with his Somme Memorial cross made from excavated war materials (Calyx)