skip to Main Content
Shrouds of the Somme
Collection Description

Shrouds of the Somme figurine to commemorate the life and sacrifice of Second Lieutenant Arthur Rosser, Welsh Regiment.

Collection Detail:

This figurine is one of 72,396 made as part of an art installation created to represent the men who died on the Somme and who have no known graves. The Shrouds of the Somme project, by artist Rob Heard, was intended to help people visualise the extent of the losses suffered in just one battle during the First World War.

He explained: “I got thinking about the number killed on just the first day of the Battle of the Somme (19,240). I tried to count the number out loud, but ran out of steam at 1,500. I realised how difficult it was to visualise these huge numbers and thought through ways I could physically represent them.

The Shrouds of the Somme exhibition went on display at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in November 2018 to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. It has also been exhibited in Salisbury, Exeter, Belfast, Bristol and at Thiepval in France, where the men’s names appear on the Thiepval Memorial.


You can learn more about the exhibition here.

Person Detail

Second Lieutenant Rosser was born in Swansea and was a student at the town’s Technical College when war broke out in 1914. He enlisted in the 14th (service) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment, otherwise known as the Swansea Pals, and found himself fighting on the Somme alongside his old school friends.

Private George Britton, one such former classmate of Rosser’s, witnessed part of the battle in which he probably died, although his body was never found. He wrote: “…the Lieutenant saw that his men were going to be surrounded and told them to dash for safety, while he himself stayed on…Rosser was no doubt killed during this attack.”

Another Swansea Pal, Dick Lyons, found it hard to describe the battle, he said: “Such terms as ‘bedlam,’ ‘hell let loose,’ ‘the world gone mad’ occur to me… we were relieved sometime in the night greatly depleted in numbers. On our way back… one of my most vivid memories is of the groans of the wounded and dying.

The Battalion numbered 676 when it advanced on Mametz Wood. By the end of the day more than 100 men had been killed, and nearly 400 were wounded. Many succumbed to their injuries in the days and weeks after the battle, making the final death toll much higher. Second Lieutenant Rosser died on July 10th, 1916, aged 19.

Close search
Back To Top