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'WWI Soldiers' Across The UK In Somme Tribute

Sky News logo Sky News 01/07/2016

Hundreds of volunteers dressed as World War I soldiers appeared in public places across the UK today.

The National Theatre project was described as a "modern memorial" marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller came up with the idea, which saw around 1,500 participants dress up in First World War uniform.

They appeared unannounced in locations across the UK, including train stations and shopping centres.

The men walking the streets today were a reminder of the nearly 20,000 who were killed on 1 July 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Somme 100th anniversary © PA Somme 100th anniversary Each participant represented an individual soldier who was killed that day.

The idea was partly inspired by stories of sightings during and after the war by people who believed they had seen a dead loved one.

The participants wore historically accurate uniforms, representing 15 of the regiments that suffered losses in the first day of the battle.

They did not speak, but throughout the day broke into the song We're Here Because We're Here - to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

They handed out cards to members of the public with the name and regiment of the soldier they represented, and the age of the soldier when he died on 1 July 1916.

The volunteers were men aged between 16-52, reflecting the men who would have fought in the Somme.

Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, said: "This ... is a truly national piece of theatre and is a powerful way to remember the men who went off to fight 100 years ago."

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