30 October 2018

Pages of the Sea

Pages of the Sea

Lyme Regis is one of 30 beaches in the country chosen to host a nationwide gesture of remembrance on Armistice Day.

The public is invited to gather on Lyme Regis beach on 11 November to remember the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War, many never to return.

Pages of the Sea will mark the centenary of the end of the Great War with the drawing of a large-scale portrait of a casualty in the sand, which will be washed away as the tide comes in.

Lyme Regis is one of only two beaches in Dorset to be selected for the project, which is British filmmaker Danny Boyle’s commission for 14-18 NOW, a programme of arts’ experiences connecting people with the First World War.

The face of Rifleman Kulbir Thapa VC, who made history as the first Gurkha to win a Victoria Cross, the most prestigious British award for bravery, has been chosen as the portrait for Lyme Regis beach.

During the First World War, more than 90,000 Gurkhas enlisted, fighting across Asia, Middle East and Europe where more than 6,000 died in action.  

All the sand portraits have been chosen by Danny Boyle as a representation of the range of individuals, regions and international communities that were part of the First World War.

From 11am on Sunday 11 November, the public can watch the artwork take shape on the beach, which is expected to be finished by 2pm.

The image will be raked in the sand by a group of A Level students from Woodroffe School, led by Dorset artist Sarah Butterworth.

The public will also be asked to join in by creating large stenciled silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.

A new poem by British poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy has been commissioned to be performed by local communities, with copies of the poem to be made available on the day to allow people to reflect on her words.

In addition to Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, the public are invited to share their own words in an open mic session on the beach between 2pm and 3pm.

This could include existing poems, letters or pieces of writing, or a new response to the First World War, and individuals are encouraged to take part online and say a personal thank you and goodbye at www.pagesofthesea.org.uk

Performing arts organisation Activate is delivering the Pages of the Sea project in Dorset, hosting the events in Lyme Regis and in Weymouth.

Students at Woodroffe School also took part in a workshop with poet Matt West to create their own poems, which they will be encouraged to share with the public during Pages of the Sea.

Lyme Regis mayor, Cllr Michaela Ellis, said: “It is an honour for Lyme Regis to be chosen as one of only 30 beaches in the country to host this poignant and moving tribute.

“We are expecting people to come from far and wide to watch the portrait take shape on the beach, to listen to the words of others and maybe to share their own, and perhaps to take a moment of private reflection to honour those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War.”

Pages of the Sea will follow the annual Remembrance Sunday parade through Lyme Regis, starting from the entrance to Langmoor Gardens at 9.25am and processing to St Michael’s Parish Church for a service at 9.45am.

Following the service, the parade will reform at 10.30am and march past the war memorial, forming up in Cobb Square for a two-minute silence and dismissal.

To conclude the day, a beacon will be lit on the North Wall at 7pm, as part of a national tribute called Battle’s Over, when 1,200 beacons will be lit across the country.

The Last Post will be played at 6.55pm, and at 7.05pm the bells of St Michael’s Parish Church will ring out for peace, and town crier, Alan Vian, will cry out for peace.

The highly regarded Brigade of Gurkhas have been supporting the British Army for over 200 years, including two world wars through to modern conflict.  During the First World War, more than 90,000 Gurkhas enlisted, fighting across Asia, Middle East and Europe where more than 6000 died in action. The Gurkhas gained a reputation for valour earning thousands of medals for gallantry. Today, they continue to be part of the British Army including signals, logistics and engineers, with units based across the south of England.

Rifleman Kulbir Thapa VC (15 December 1889 – 03 October 1956)

Kulbir Thapa made history as the first Gurkha to win a Victoria Cross, the most prestigious British award for bravery.

He was born in the village of Nigalpani, Palpa, Nepal, and in 1907 enlisted in the Indian Army as part of Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles, transferring to 2nd Battalion at the outbreak of war. On September 25 1915, during operations against German trenches south of Mauquissart, he found a badly wounded soldier of the 2nd Leicestershire Regiment behind the first German trench. Although wounded himself and urged by the English soldier to save his own skin, Kulbir stayed with him all day and night.

Early the next morning, in misty conditions, he brought the soldier out through the German wire and having left him in a place of comparative safety, returned and brought back two wounded Gurkhas to the allied lines, one after the other. He then returned in broad daylight to bring back the British soldier, carrying him most of the way under enemy fire. Kulbir himself was admitted to hospital for his wounds and he rejoined his unit in Egypt in 1916. His medal is on display at the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, Hampshire, and in 2015 he was commemorated on a Royal Mail stamp.