A haunting display of silhouettes of fallen soldiers has been erected on a village green where men were enlisted in a poignant act of Remembrance.
The black-painted 4ft tall plywood cut outs of 41 soldiers represent all the men from Haughley, near Stowmarket, Suffolk, who died in World War One and World War Two serving in the Suffolk Regiment.
The touching display has attracted hundreds of visitors since being installed last week on the green at the centre of the village.
The silhouettes were designed by villager Kieron Palmer, 47, as a way of paying tribute to those who lost their lives.
He was inspired to create his art installation for the first time last year after he planted daffodils on the green in 2018 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his family’s bakery in Haughley.
The black-painted 4ft tall plywood cut outs of 41 soldiers represent all the men from Haughley, near Stowmarket, Suffolk, who died in World War One and World War Two
When the daffodils grew up in clumps in the spring, he thought they looked like clusters of troops on a battlefield which gave him the idea to make his soldiers.
Mr Palmer whose family have lived in the village for 500 years got a carpenter to make a template from an old photograph of a soldier.
He then used a jigsaw to create each silhouette over a period of 20 weeks, paying for materials out of his own pocket
Each silhouette represents one of the names on the village war memorial of the 31 men from the Haughley who died in World War One or the ten from World War Two.
Each silhouette represents a man from the village Haughley who died in World War One or the ten from World War Two
A small wooden cross at the feet of each one gives the name and age of a fallen soldier from the village, and the year of their death.
Several families in the village today are related to the soldiers who are being commemorated.
The display proved so popular in 2019, that Mr Palmer decided to install it again this year.
He said: ‘It is quite poignant that it is on the village green because that is where the young men were recruited during World War One.
‘One of the Captains from the Yeomanry turned up and urged them to sign up for King and Country.
A small wooden cross at the feet of each one gives the name and age of a fallen soldier from the village, and the year of their death
Village baker Kieron Palmer, 47, who erected the silhouettes of fallen soldiers on the village green at Haughley, Suffolk
The village war memorial at Haughley, Suffolk. Thirty one men died in WWI and ten in WWII
Names of the Fallen on Haughley War Memorial
‘He assured the local lads that it would all be over in six months and they all marched off to go and fight. Most of them were just teenagers. Sadly, many of them never returned.
‘Four or five of them were killed when they went over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.’
Mr Palmer said the dead included his great grandmother’s nephew Edwin Woods, a Boer War veteran aged in his 40s, who was killed at Arras in France.
Pictured of the day the war memorial was first dedicated , 9th March 1920, as a choir and villagers congregated, 18 months after the armistice was signed
At the time The Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury Friday newspapers described the unveiling as ‘impressive’ as crowds formed around the memorial
The memorial when it was newly unveiled in 1920, with wreaths surrounding it
Men of the 7th (Service) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, in the ruins of the church in Tilloy, France, 18 October 1917
Suffolk Regiment in WWI and WWII
The Regiment was first raised by the Duke of Norfolk in 1685.
The Regiment raised 23 battalions during the course of WWI and was awarded two Victoria Crosses.
Several of the men who lost their lives from the village of Haughley were part of the 7th battalion.
The 7th battalion fought in The Battle of Loos, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Le Transloy.
As well as the The First and Third Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Cambrai operations, all in 1916.
And The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, both in 1918.
The 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th battalions were stationed overseas during WWII.
The 1st was sent to France in 1939 before being evacuated from Dunkirk to the UK.
They then landed in Normandy, D-Day, in June 1944 and continued the North Western Europe campaign from then on.
The 2nd battalion was in Mhow, India at the outbreak of WWII and moved north to Razmak – they were engaged against tribesmen in the Tochi Valley for three years.
4th and 5th battalion:
Became part of the 18th East Anglian Division.
In 1942 after the fall of Singapore around 620 of the battalions were taken as prisoners of war, with the dying on the Burma-Thailand Railway.
Was converted to 142nd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps serving in North Africa and Italy.
In 1943 landed in Algiers with Churchill tanks and fought at the Battle of Medjez-el Bab in Tunisia later that year.
He added: ‘Walking around the silhouettes, gives you a real feeling of being amongst them.
‘It transposes what you may read on paper, to being something physical.
‘It’s important to visualise how many died. Just seeing a number means it is sometimes difficult to see how many sacrificed themselves.
‘It is really emotional walking amongst them, I get goose bumps. It’s really poignant. The display brings home the sheer loss of young life.
‘Thousands of people visited the installation last year and we had 350,000 looking at the pictures of it online.
‘One group of people included a blind man who was very impressed as he could actually feel the silhouettes.’
The Suffolk Regiment raised 23 battalions during the course of WWI and was awarded two Victoria Crosses.
Sergeant Arthur Frederick Saunders (No 3/10133), 9th Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Loos on 26 September, 1915.
And Corporal Sidney James Day (No 15092), 11th Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery, on 26 August, 1917.
Last year’s installation raised £1,000 for the Royal British Legion from donations left by visitors and collected in Mr Palmer’s bakery next to the green
This year he is also selling poppy-shaped biscuits and muffins to help his appeal.
Mr Palmer added: ‘It is important that even a small village like Haughley honours the men who fell for them.’
It had been planned to hold an open air service among the soldiers on Remembrance Day – November 11 – but that has been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions. Villagers are instead being urged to stand on their doorsteps during the two minute silence.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman on Monday said that guidance would be given to councils but remembrance events would be allowed as long as social distancing was maintained.
There will still be a national service at the Cenotaph in London, which will be broadcast on TV.
The PM’s spokesman said: ‘We are certainly not cancelling Remembrance Sunday events but we must be mindful of the risks such events pose, especially to veterans who are often elderly.
‘What we are saying to local authorities in England is that they may organise remembrance services but they should be outside and social distance should be maintained.
‘We will be updating the guidance shortly.’
The spokesman added: ‘It’s important that the country can continue to come together to remember the sacrifice of those who have died in the service of their country and we will ensure that Remembrance Sunday is appropriately commemorated while protecting public health.’
It had been reported that Health Secretary Matt Hancock had told Tory MPs that only ‘short, focused’ wreath-laying events will be allowed.