Lietutenant Basil Perrin Hicks is selected to be sand portrait in Sutton on Sea for Danny Boyle’s armistice commission

Lietutenant Basil Perrin Hicks.
Lietutenant Basil Perrin Hicks.

Today, (Thursday, Novembr 1), it has been announced that Lieutenant Basil Perrin Hicks, who lost his life in the First World War, will be commemorated by a large-scale sand portrait on the beach in Sutton on Sea for Danny Boyle’s Armistice commission, ‘Pages of the Sea’.

On Sunday, November 11, the public is invited to assemble at one of thirty-two 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 officer and student, Lt Basil Perrin Hicks, designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, will be drawn into the sand on Sutton on Sea 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.

The portraits on the sand will 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.

Lt Basil Perrin Hicks was born in Sheffield and was educated at Rugby School before studying at Trinity College, Cambridge.

By 1915, he had joined the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment.

The unit first saw action later that year in France at the Battle of Loos, the largest British attack of 1915 and one that despite some territorial gains, failed to break the stalemate on the western front.

Within a matter of weeks, the battalion was almost wiped out.

Basil was killed in action on the first day of the battle and buried on the battlefield.

His commanding officer said the regiment had “lost, not only a charming companion, but a very clever and most promising officer”, worshipped by those under him.

His remains were later moved to Dud Corner Military Cemetery, Loos, while other memorials include an inscription at St John’s Church, Ranmoor, Sheffield and a memorial lectureship fund for the city’s university endowed by his father, to deal with aspects of the Great War.

The most recent was given by in 2015 by Professor Sir Ian Kershaw.

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 November 11, 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. 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 November 11.

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 November 11.

The work is the culmination of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

The public can see which beaches are taking part by visiting www.pagesofthesea.org.uk.