HAUNTING figures from the First World War have been installed to commemorate an important landmark where more than 31,000 troops once trained at the biggest Army base in Europe.

The siting of the silhouettes at Hell Wath are part of Ripon’s ongoing commemoration of the Great War and recognition of all conflicts since.

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The city wanted to bring the stories of wartime soldiers and families to life, and previously had a series of silhouettes placed around the streets and at St John’s Church in Sharow as part of the Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope remembrance in Ripon Cathedral.

Some of the silhouettes, which had been made free of charge by the city’s Econ Engineering, had been in storage.

But now, with the help of Ripon Community Poppy Project and soldiers from Ripon, they have been given pride of place at Hell Wath.

Cllr Stuart Martin, of the Poppy Project, said it had taken nearly two years to organise the display and the group was keen to get the silhouettes installed before Remembrance Day this November.

His grandfather, Wilfred Parnaby had signed up to fight in the First World War when he was just 16 after lying about his age.

His brother had been killed in the war and he was determined to join up.

Cllr Martin added: “This has always had a real impact on me and I am very passionate about recognising the commitment and sacrifices people made during the First World War and all the conflicts since.

“But also it’s very important that this also celebrates the people who came home.

“A lot of people don’t know about Hell Wath, it is very much countryside now but it is important that they do know that it was once a huge military barracks, the biggest in Europe.

“We want people to know about the huge effort made and the impact it had in the city of Ripon.

“During the First World War it was an enormous camp, another town really, where people trained and prepared for the war.

“The camp stretched over a huge area with barracks as far as Littlethorpe.

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“This has been a real community effort there are many people to thank including Ripon Farm Services, Econ Engineering and Harrogate Council.”

Joe Priestley, commemoration project coordinator, said the silhouettes, which put the men and women of the First World War back on the streets, marking Ripon’s vast and deeply-rooted connections with the war, have really struck a chord with people.

He said: "We are delighted with the fantastic response that we have had to the project.

"It’s very much meant to be something that people can draw their own personal reflections from," he added.


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