Heartbreaking WW1 beach tributes will show faces of heroes and will vanish with the tide at 32 sites across England and Wales

Soldiers will be honoured on 32 beaches marking where many set sail to courageously fight in France and Belgium.

Later in the day, the incoming tide will wash away the tributes, a unique way for the nation to say “Thank you and goodbye”.

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and arts programme 14-18 NOW have masterminded the Pages of the Sea project, marking 100 years since the war’s end.

Volunteers will be given stencils and rakes to create large-scale sand portraits. Or visitors to the beaches could choose to quietly reflect on the millions of lives changed forever by the conflict.

Our map, right, shows every beach in England and Wales taking part, and the best times to admire the portraits of 22 heroes.

Other soldiers will be remembered in Scotland and across Ireland.

Danny, the creative director behind the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, told The Sun: “As the tide goes out we will move in and with a bunch of volunteers, expertly guided, to create huge portraits.

“When the sea returns, because we are all the mercy of the tide, the portrait will be washed away.

“It is a way of saying goodbye and thank you.”

As a boy Danny was fascinated by the story of Private Walter Bleakley, who hailed from the same road, School Street in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester.

Pte Bleakley, 26, was killed at the Somme on July 1, 1916, when 12,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers died on the first day of the battle.

Danny said: “Walter signed up with his two best friends, Robert Young and Andrew Bridge. They had consecutive Army numbers.

“Two were killed within the first seconds of the Battle of the Somme, and the other guy lost his life at Passchendaele a year later. Their bodies were never found.

“When you research it a bit, and begin to dwell, it is wonderful how it touches you.

“I haven’t really done anything public since the Olympics but one of my favourite bits in the opening ceremony that went almost unnoticed was a commemorative moment for the First World War.

“So I was very honoured and flattered and delighted to try and think of something else to do.

“During the war the vast majority of soldiers left from Folkestone, Kent, and Weymouth, Dorset.

“I wanted to connect local communities with their beaches so there is a personal reason for going there.”

Danny aims to spend the day at Sunny Sands, Folkestone, where a 160ft image of war poet Wilfred Owen will be created.

Before leaving for France, Owen swam in the sea at Folkestone.

He died aged 25 just a week before the end of the conflict.

Danny added: “The poets changed the world because they reported the truth. Everybody went there with the belief (to fight) and suddenly these extraordinary words were coming back.”

Visitors will also be handed information cards about local heroes.

The Pages of the Sea title comes from the last line of a poem Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy wrote to mark the centenary of the day the guns fell silent.

If you cannot get to the seaside on Sunday you can watch the activities and portraits from many of the beaches on social media.

Where you can see the memorials

List of beaches in England and Wales and start times

L/Cpl John Arkwright died aged 24 in 1914 just three days after landing in France.

Driver Stephen Hewitt, from Halvergate,   killed by wolves while fighting in Salonika, Greece,  1916.

Stencils for  smaller portraits.

Capt Kenneth Grigson, from Pelynt, won the Military Cross and died  fighting on the River Marne in July  1918 . He was 23.

Capt John Armitage died age 43  at  Bullacourt in May  1917.

Stencils only

Gurkha Kulbir Thapa won a Victoria Cross for helping a wounded soldier behind  German lines. Kulbir lived to age 66.

Archie Jewell, from Bude,  died when  hospital ship Donegal was torpedoed in the  Channel on April 17, 1917. He was 29.

Lt Richard Graves-Sawle, 26, from St Austell, was killed  at Ypres on November 2, 1914.

Capt Teddy Hain, 28, was killed at Gallipoli on November 11, 1915.

Pte Theophilus Jones, 29, was on duty when Germans bombed ironworks  in December 1914.

Lt Hugh Carr, 25, was fatally wounded when a  shell exploded in a trench near Ypres in 1916.

Capt Ralph Cumine-Robson, 26,  of Barnstaple,  died in 1914.

Pte William Jonas, of Jarrow,  killed at the Somme in  1916.

War poet  Lt Wilfred Owen.

Lt Basil Hicks,   from Sheffield was killed at the Battle of Loos in September 1915, age 22.

Lt Col  John Hardyman died aged 23 in August 1918.

Sgt Stanley McDougall won the VC for killing seven men and capturing a machine gun at Dernancourt, France, in March 1918.

Poet Ellis “Hedd Wyn” Evans, died at Passchendaele    aged 20.

Major Charles Morris died  aged 22 in May 1917.

Dorothy Watson died  with three colleagues in a munitions factory explosion in Pembrey in 1917.

Richard Davies died  on trawler  Evangel off Milford Haven in 1917.

FORMER sergeant Ron Freer, 103, of Kent — a prisoner of the Japanese in World War Two and whose dad died in battle in 1918 — will be the oldest veteran to march at the Cenotaph on Sunday.


Harry, who served with the Army in Afghanistan, made his feelings known as he honoured Britain’s war dead at a ceremony to open Westminster Abbey’s Field of Remembrance.

It came after the Prince, right yesterday, was handed a marigold — the flower used in India to honour the fallen — by Suraj Samant of the Hindu Council UK.

Mr Samant, 23, said: “He said he’d add a couple of marigolds into his wreath for the Cenotaph if he had the choice.”

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