Pages of the Sea sand portrait soldier announced


Lieutenant Colonel John Hay Maitland Hardyman, who lost his life in the First World War, will be commemorated by a large-scale sand portrait on the beach at Weston-super-Mare  for Danny Boyle’s Armistice commission Pages of the Sea. On Sunday 11 November, the public is invited to assemble at one of 32 beaches around the UK and the Republic of Ireland at low-tide for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.

A large-scale portrait of Lieutenant Colonel John Hay Maitland Hardyman, designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, will be drawn into the sand on Weston’s beach and washed away as the tide comes in. In addition, the public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict. Each of the beaches taking part in the project will commemorate a different WW1 casualty. Theatre Orchard, with the support of the Grand Pier, will be leading events at Weston-super-Mare beach on Sunday 11 November.

Lieutenant Colonel John Hay Maitland Hardyman, D.S.O. M.C. (28 September 1894 – 24 August 1918) was born in Bath, was an Officer in the Royal Flying Corps and was awarded for gallantry. He was killed in France aged 24.

In May 1918,  aged only 23,  he became the youngest lieutenant colonel in the British Army. He was born in Bath to Eglantine Henrietta Keith and George Hardyman, with three brothers and two sisters. In December 1914, he was accepted for officer training with the Royal Flying Corps (forerunner of the RAF) at Brooklands, Surrey, though eventually served with the Somerset Light Infantry. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. After the enemy had penetrated allied lines, John went forward through a heavy barrage to rally the troops and repel repeated enemy attacks over two days and three nights. He encouraged them through “coolness and absolute disregard of personal danger” to maintain a tactically important position. He was killed in action at Bienvillers, France, and buried in the military cemetery there, with a memorial raised for him at St Mary’s churchyard, Bathwick, Bath.

The portraits commemorate men and women who served or who were casualties of the First World War, most of whom died in active service. They were chosen by Danny Boyle to represent a range of interesting stories – ordinary people who gave their lives to the War effort covering a range of ranks and regiments, from doctors to munition workers, Privates to Lieutenants and Majors. A number were also notable war poets who translated the experience of war to those back at home. Many are from the regions or communities they will be featured in, others are from towns and cities not featured, or from international communities to show the scale of loss. These individuals are a just small selection of the millions who gave their lives to the war.

The public is invited to explore an online gallery of portraits of some of the men and women who served in the First World War, and select someone to thank and say a personal goodbye to either via social media or as they gather in person on beaches on 11 November at www.pagesofthesea.org.uk. The images are drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ which aims to tell eight million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth. Visitors to the website can also add their own portraits of members of their family or community who contributed to the First World War at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org

Poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on beaches on 11 November. The Wound in Time will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on beaches on 11 November and is also available online. A series of community-led events will also be taking place at each beach. People who can’t make it on the day will be able to watch the activities and portraits from most of the beaches on social media on Sunday 11 November. The work is the culmination of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.