ARMISTICE 100: Hundreds take part in Danny Boyle's Pages of the Sea remembrance event at Seahouses

A picture of Private Jonas from the air. For more on the project, see the 14-18 NOW website.
A picture of Private Jonas from the air. For more on the project, see the 14-18 NOW website.

Hundreds flocked to Seahouses beach on Armistice Day (Sunday) to be part of a powerful tribute to the fallen soldiers of the First World War.

Although the emotional commemoration centred on an individual conscript, Private William Jonas, dozens of soldiers' silhouettes were created in the sand to represent the millions who were killed in the ferocious and deadly battles of the Great War.

The portrait of Private Jonas begins to take shape as a helicopter hovers overhead to take pictures from above.

The portrait of Private Jonas begins to take shape as a helicopter hovers overhead to take pictures from above.

Seahouses was one of just 32 beaches around the country chosen to host the Pages of the Sea event, which was the culmination of the 14-18 NOW arts programme to mark the centenary of the war. The day was co-ordinated by the National Trust, which looks after St Aidan's dunes.

Filmmaker Danny Boyle spearheaded the coastal tribute, inviting members of the public to create the silhouettes of servicemen on the beaches next to one giant portrait, before the tide washed them all away, just as their lives had been extinguished 100 years ago.

Private William Jonas, from Blyth, who was killed on the Somme, was the subject of the Seahouses portrait. It was designed by sand artists Sand in Your Eye and work started on it at 8am, with the marking out of a grid to guide volunteers as they drew Private Jonas' features. By 11.30am, the portrait had taken shape and remained in place until high tide at around 5pm.

Read the story of Private Jonas.

Volunteers start creating a field of soldiers' silhouettes.

Volunteers start creating a field of soldiers' silhouettes.

At 11am, an impeccably observed two-minutes' silence was held on the beach.

Alongside Pages in the Sea, another initiative, run by Sunderland Culture, saw youngsters from Seahouses Primary School, Shilbottle Youth Project and Berwick Youth Project create origami pinwheel poppies and write touching letters to Private Jones, entitled Dear William.

One from Cara read: 'Dear William, My name is Cara and I am writing from the future but I want you to know that me and the rest of England remember you and the war. Now the technology is better, so war would be tough. We will remember.'

Joshua wrote: 'Thank you for giving up your life for us, as if you didn't do that we would have such different lives. What happened after you went to hospital? Did you die from horrible pain?'

Margaret Metcalfe, from Leicestershire, and Janice Clark, from Nottinghamshire, draw their silhouettes.

Margaret Metcalfe, from Leicestershire, and Janice Clark, from Nottinghamshire, draw their silhouettes.

Another, from Emily, read: 'Dear William, I'm writing to you from 100 years later. I'm Emily who is writing to you and did your knee get better when you got shot because if I were you I would be screaming in pain and did you have a good time sailing around the world with your friends?'

Taylor wrote: 'Dear William, Thanks to you, we are safe from the Germans and we are very very pleased the world is a better place now. Thank you so much.'

Another simply wrote: 'Dear William, Thank you for fighting in the war. I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for you and your friends. I'm just trying to say thank you.'

Stuart McKinnon, from Blaydon, rakes his tribute in the sand.

Stuart McKinnon, from Blaydon, rakes his tribute in the sand.

Remembering the fallen.

Remembering the fallen.

Pages of the Sea volunteers John Parkin, Anna Coils, Karen Mather, Dave Rodger and Mandy Crowley in the origami poppy field created by local children.

Pages of the Sea volunteers John Parkin, Anna Coils, Karen Mather, Dave Rodger and Mandy Crowley in the origami poppy field created by local children.