'The Fallen:' 9,000 silhouettes on beach in Normandy show the lives lost on D-Day

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A touching and beautiful project set out to show the sheer numbers of human lives lost on the D-Day landings during WWII using thousands of silhouettes on a beach.

Artists in the United Kingdom, using stencils, tasked volunteers made of up students, friends, and families, to rake the sand within the stencils, leaving 9,000 human silhouettes on one of the beaches of the landings, which happened on June 6, 1944.

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"The idea was to create a visual representation of what is otherwise unimaginable, the thousands of human lives lost during the hours of the tide during the WWII Normandy landings on June 6, 1944," said Jamie Wardley, a sand sculptor of "Sand in Your Eye."


Nearly 2,500 of the lives lost that day were American forces and another 2,000 were allied forces. The rest of the 9,000 were civilians and other combatants who died that day.

"There was no distinction between nationalities, they were known only as 'The Fallen,'" Wardley said. "We went to Arromanches in France to draw on the beach 9000 silhouettes to visually represent the lives lost and what happens in the absence of peace as such a number is unimaginable," a blog post said. "It does not propose to be a celebration or condemnation, simply a statement of fact and tribute to life and its premature loss," another blog posting said.


The project took 500 volunteers about five hours to complete. "It was an opportunity to give a voice back to all those that had lost their lives and the volunteers helped them speak," Wardley said. 

The project was put together for Peace Day in September 2013, but photos of the project had recently gone viral again, showing the striking images of thousands of human silhouettes on the beach, a sobering reminder of the sheer numbers of lives lost that day. An issue of Time magazine also featured the photos in a special D-Day issue.


After the volunteers created the silhouettes that stretched along the beach, they reflected on the vision from a hill above.

The silhouettes were all erased with the incoming tide.