Pages of the Sea commemorations

On 11 November 2018, communities will gather on beaches across the UK to say goodbye and thank you, to the millions of men and women who left their shores during the war, many never to return.

This is a commemoration on a national scale, the idea of Danny Boyle, iconic film director who says: ‘This will be a unique moment to say goodbye and thank you, together, to the millions of men and women who left their shores during the war, many never to return’.

On selected beaches around the UK, including a number in the South West (Saunton Sands in Devon), over the course of several hours, a portrait of an individual from the First World War will emerge from the sand. And then, as the tide rises, be washed away as we take a moment to say a collective goodbye.

Poet Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem especially for Pages of the Sea, to be read by individuals, families and communities on the day. You can also get involved in creating artwork in the sand using stencils of portraits at the beaches.

The Wound in Time

It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

Find out more at


Timings still to be confirmed (approx. 12pm – 3pm).  If you are interested in getting involved with events and workshops at this beach contact

There will be a drumming flash mob, pebble art workshops and a choir performance by Devon-based Wren Music of songs written for the home front.

The portrait that will be revealed on this beach is:

Ralph George Griffiths Robson,

Royal Engineers, Age: 26 Date of Death: 23/12/1914, Son of Samuel and Ellen Frances Robson, of Bradiford House, Barnstaple, Devon.

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