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WWI_mosaic_07.11.14

When The Present Becomes Part Of History

The remembrance of the First World War has been overwhelming but the image of a plumber’s mate has been brought to life by thousands of people

The story is a simple one and involved one ordinary London man who went off to war as a private in 1915 and never came back again.

James Ernest Beaney was born on 16 April 1893 Battersea, London. He worked as a plumber’s mate before he joined The Queen’s Regiment (Royal West Surrey Regiment). This was at the very start of the First World War in August 1914. In May 1915 while serving with D Company, 6 Battalion near Martinsart Wood, France, he was killed in action on 8 August 1916. James Beaney was buried nearby in Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

The story is one of thousands upon thousands but the difference for this former plumber is that a digital mosaic of him has been created. Part of the BBC World War One at Home Live events, 30,000 people consented to their images being used. The online mosaic can be viewed online and is interactive as viewers can zoom in and see the people who comprise it.

“This portrait image was selected….because it is a face that could also exist in the here and now, in our time,” explained Helen Marshall, the artist. “It could easily be a portrait of our father, brother or friend, taken yesterday.”

 

Caption            The poignant mosaic of Private James Ernest Beaney, a plumber’s mate from Battersea, brought alive by the help of 30,000 people.

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