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Schoolchildren create hundreds of military figures for 1918 Armistice centenary project

PUBLISHED: 15:26 07 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:25 07 September 2018

Gerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian Burt

Gerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

After witnessing a touching tribute overseas made to the lives lost in the First World War, one man decided to create his own in Norfolk.

In November 2017, president of the King’s Lynn branch of the British Royal Legion Gerry Tann, 79, was invited to take part in commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Cambrai in France.

“I was there as a veteran of the Royal Tank Regiment representing the county of Norfolk,” he said. “And in particular King’s Lynn who lost over 100 of their menfolk during that battle which lasted 16 days.”

He also visited Belgium where he met with veterans and local people and it was at one of these meetings he discovered what the Belgium veterans were doing commemorate the end of the First World War -

Gerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian BurtGerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian Burt

“I decided that I must do something in King’s Lynn to honour our gallant men who laid down their lives for us,” he added.

In a collaborative project with West Norfolk council and Stories of Lynn, Mr Tann has invited schoolchildren in the town to create 600 small wooden figures which will include the names listed on the town’s war memorial in Tower Gardens.

Students from Springwood High School, King’s Lynn Academy and King Edward VII Academy have cut the figures from plywood and these will be painted by youngsters from a number of primary schools.

Gerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian BurtGerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian Burt

The figures will then be placed in a battle sequence in Tower Gardens in time for Remembrance Sunday.

Mr Tann added: “I decided to call it Return to the Battlefield, this is a military term used when soldiers recovering from injuries received in battle are found fit to return to the battlefield.

“The figures will have the name of one of those engraved on the war memorial in Tower Gardens and the name of the pupil who decorated it on the figure. In this way, each figure literally connects the past with the present.

Gerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian BurtGerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian Burt

“The combined engagement of all the people involved in the project transforms the land art installation into a symbol of peace that transcends both time and geographical borders.

“In a very literal way, it unites different personalities and different generations in common remembrance.”

At the end of the project, the figures will be offered back to the pupils who decorated them as mementoes of their involvement.

Gerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian BurtGerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian Burt

Gerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian BurtGerry Tann has been working with local schools to make over 600 mini wooden figure soldiers, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Picture: Ian Burt

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