The ghostly outlines of First World War soldiers appeared at the Giant’s Causeway today as part of a new fundraising campaign for armed forces and mental health charities.
The six-foot-high aluminium statues known as ‘Tommies’ will appear throughout the UK today to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.
The Giant’s Causeway was selected as a key launch location for the touring installations – which are expected to be there for around 48 hours – because of the strong connection Bushmills has to the First World War.
The Co Antrim town is the final resting place of Sergeant Robert Quigg of the Royal Irish Rifles, who won the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery” at the Battle of the Somme.
Sgt Quigg was awarded the highest military medal for valour after going out into no-man’s-land under heavy enemy fire to search for his commanding officer Lt Sir Harry Macnaghten.
Lt Macnaghten was not simply his senior officer, he was also the heir to the Macnaghten estate at Bushmills where Robert Quigg worked prior to the war.
Leonard Quigg, great-nephew of Sgt Robert Quigg, who opened the installation at Giant’s Causeway, said: “The local Bushmills community was – and remains – very proud of my great-uncle Sergeant Robert Quigg VC.
“Although he did not succeed in his desperate search to find his platoon commander, 20-year-old Second Lieutenant Sir Harry Macnaghten, in his seven ventures into the hell of no-man’s-land, he single-handedly assisted seven severely wounded soldiers to reach the safety of the British trenches.
“Given my great-uncle’s heroism that day and the sacrifice made by the Bushmills community – with 103 fatalities suffered during the Great War – it is only fitting that Bushmills should have been selected to host part of the national installation.”
Hoping to raise in excess of £15 million for armed forces and mental health charities, the Tommies are part of a national art installation called ‘There But Not There’.
The figures will be touring the UK until Armistice Day and members of the public are being encouraged to buy their own 10-inch versions to remember their own relatives.
The money raised from the sale of these commemorative figures, which are made by military veterans, will be distributed evenly between The Royal Foundation: Heads Together, Walking With The Wounded, Combat Stress, Help for Heroes: Hidden Wounds, The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation and Project Equinox: Housing Veterans.