A new memorial sculpture commemorating the Battle of the Somme has been mounted in the chapel at Radnor Street Cemetery and can be viewed by the public from 7.20am on 1 July 2016, exactly 100 years since the start of the battle, until 12noon.
Designed by Mike Pringle, the 7 foot cross of remembrance has been created from bayonets and picket salvaged from the battlefield and represents the many nations that fought in the First World War. Mike has invited Swindon people to join him to pay tribute the tens of thousands of combatants who lost their lives.
See more pictures at www.swindonheritage.com
Mike said: “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. I wanted to illustrate that there are no victors in war, only victims.
“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 Great 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.