SILHOUETTE’S of First World War soldiers, heads bowed, have become a poignant tribute to the fallen.

The wooden memorials have been placed at towns and villages across the Maldon district to mark the centenary of the Great War.

Now 48 of the soldiers stand proud ahead of Remembrance Day this Sunday.

The tributes were the brainchild of Maldon’s river bailiff Nigel Harmer.

Mr Harmer, who has lived in Maldon his whole life, said he was proud of the moving memorials he had created.

“About two years ago the district council were contacted by the Queen’s Remembrancer,” he said.

“Buckingham Palace were requesting that all local authorities put on some sort of event to commemorate the end of the First World War.

“We had team meetings. My original idea was to build a full-scale trench system at the Promenade, but our insurers didn’t like the idea of the public going deep underground. That was shelved.”

One of Nigel’s more modest proposals was to give all school children a packet of poppy seeds.

But as the anniversary approached this too was found unviable. But this did not deter Nigel who was determined Maldon’s fallen would be remembered.

He said: “The sheets of plywood cost £40 each. I get those from Travis Perkins.

“I searched a lot of designs but as soon as I saw the “soldier bowed” I knew it was the one. It’s so striking.”

Mr Harmer cuts out all the soldiers and then paints them.

“I cut the templates out with jig saws—been through packets of them,” he said.

“Gives you quite a headache, too, after you’ve cut a dozen in one day. But it’s worth it.

“They’re quite tall as well. Six-foot. I stood one by the door at a council meeting and one of the councillors walked straight in, saw it and said, ‘Right, I want more of these.’

“Some parishes have asked for two, even three. They put them in churchyards, schools, parks, sea walls.

“The idea is to bring them all together at the prom on the night, with smoke and music and illumination.’

Each solider was offered up to parishes in the district free of charge.

Mr Harmer added: “We don’t sell them, we give them away. At first there were some parishes that didn’t want anything to do with them.

“But once they caught on, there wasn’t a parish that didn’t want one.

“I’ve had people track me down to say that just having one in their village has healed the community. They’re bringing people together.

“Every parish in every district in every part of the country has been touched by that conflict.

“If I have in some small way passed on a torch to the younger generations to remember the sacrifice of their forbears—millions of 17- and 18-year-olds—my job is done.”

What Mr Harmer has created is a fitting and poignant tribute and inspired others to never forget.