'They Are Remembered'

 

A Commemorative Portrait to Remember the Men of Aldershot Killed at the Battle of The Somme

 

This artwork has been commissioned by Garrison Commander Lt Col Macgregor, Aldershot Garrison, to commemorate all the men from the Aldershot area that were killed in the Battle of The Somme.

 

The four prominent figures at the front of the portrait are (from left to right) Army Chaplain First Class, David Michael Guthrie, attached to 8th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, died 21st November 1916. Second Lieutenant, Alan Travers Chubb, 11th Battalion Hampshire Regiment, died 9th September 1916. Private Alfred George Foxon, 2nd Battalion Hampshire Regiment, died 26th July 1916 and Sergeant Henry Gledhill, 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment, who was killed on the first day, 1st July 1916.

 

Fifty-three men from Aldershot were killed at the Battle of The Somme, each is represented in the portrait, whether it be the figures marching away from the viewer at the top of the work or the shadowed faces behind the portraits of Guthrie, Chubb, Foxon & Gledhill, they are all remembered.

 

The decoration running down either side of the portrait is taken from a piece of stained glass window at The Royal Garrison Church of All Saints Aldershot. Also taken is the decorative flourish in gold leaf, bottom centre, which in the window holds the word ‘Victory’ but instead the cap badge of the Hampshire Regiment is included in gilding to remember the county regiment.

 

Even though none of the bodies of the fifty-three men are buried in Aldershot, this portrait seeks to ‘bring them home’ and tie them to the place where they lived with their families and friends.

 

The winged lion is taken from the font in the same church and represents the symbol of Saint Mark. This image’s inclusion in the portrait stands for power, self-sacrifice and peace, as the lion holds the name of the town. The cross shown is The Somme Cross, which is now housed in The Royal Garrison Church, but was originally built and stood at the Somme as a memorial to the 1st Division, British Expeditionary Force, who fell at High Wood. Some of the men are represented walking toward the cross, away from the viewer and departing this life.

 

Finally, the tally carved into the for-ground of the portrait represents the men of Aldershot killed in this devastating theatre of war and the carving up of a  community where so many young men were lost.

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