The Military Boots Project

A Nottinghamshire artist has found a unique way of remembering those who served, and those who continuTrent to Trenchese to do so. Michael Noble takes a look.

Mboots2
Some of the completed cotton strips

Joy Pitts is a multiple award-winning contemporary artist based in Nottinghamshire. She works primarily with garments, which she sees as expressive of our individual identity and way of life. Her work assembles these individual identities into a shared whole that represents the collection of individualities that we call society.

This concept has a natural mirror in the idea of war memorials that place individual names in a shared space. One of Joy’s current projects reflects this by seeking to gather individually-sewn names of servicemen and women and present them as a single art work on canvas that will depict a pair of military boots. The Military Boots project is a collaborative effort being undertaken as part of Nottinghamshire’s Trent to Trenches programme.

Joy would like to invite  you to contribute to this project by stitching the name of those in your family past or present who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces onto a strip of cotton tape for her to add to the art work. She will provide the materials, you just need to provide the names and a little bit of your time.

Joy says ‘during World War One it was common for both men and women to sew; repairing clothing at home and in the trenches, embroidering messages to send to loved ones and sewing bandages. This project recalls these activities and invites you to make your own hand made acknowledgement to those who serve.’

MBoots1
Cotton strips in blue

If you are interested in taking part, you can contact Joy directly here to request a stitch pack.

20 thoughts on “The Military Boots Project

  • October 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm
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    Thank you to all those that have participated in the project so far and included details about their family history. Below are just a few examples, I will add more as they are returned in the post.

    “William Shaw was my grandfather who served in the First World War in the Cheshire Regiment. His son, also William Shaw who is my uncle (now aged 90) served in World War II in the R.A.F. This tape commemorates them both. Thank you for the opportunity to take part”.

    “My son has been serving for nearly 19 years so I am very privileged to participate in your Military Boots canvas”.

    “I have pleasure in enclosing the name of my uncle who was killed in action in the First World War. I look forward to seeing the completed canvas”.

    “Captain Robert Hood Watson, Royal Engineers WWII, served in France, Italy, Greece and Burma”.

    Joy Pitts

    Reply
  • October 22, 2014 at 9:09 am
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    “SGT. W.J. Baker. R.E.M.E. Born 1925 joined R.E.M.E. at 17 years 1942 – 1948 Second World War, died 1st Sept 2008, aged 83 years”.

    “Thank you for the opportunity to honour my father and uncle for the parts they played in the Second World war”.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2014 at 6:31 pm
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    Thank you to Mrs Baker for the following note that accompanied her sewn nametape.

    “Joseph Baker born in 1889 1st World War , father of W. J. Baker 1925 2nd World War. Joseph was gassed during the war but was lucky to survive although he had very poor health until his death in 1963”.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm
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    My 87 year old mother has embroidered two tags for your canvas, a brilliant idea, Joy and we feel privileged to participate. One tag is in honour of her father Reginald Panting, and one for her uncle, Arthur Allen. Both served with the Sherwood Foresters in WW1 but sadly she never met her uncle, he died age 19 in Ypres. We will remember them.

    Reply
  • November 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm
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    The following five members of one family are remembered in Military Boots.

    H. S. Gray – Royal Navy, died 01.01.1915 on HMS Formidable.
    G. H. Roberts – Royal Welch Fusiliers, served WW1 Palestine, survived, died 1956.
    H. J. Chantrey – Royal Marine, served WW1, captured at Battle of Crete 1941. POW in Stalag 18 for rest of War, survived, died 15.12.2013.
    L. H. P. Wood – Royal Navy, served after war, survived but invalided out, died 1990.
    M. Williams – Royal Welsh Fusiliers, served after the war, stationed in Germany, living.

    Reply
  • November 11, 2014 at 11:11 am
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    Dear Joy,
    My Dad A. A. D’Oyley died in January 1993 aged 71. I knew about the crash, he was the front bomb aimer in a Lancaster, and the “bubble” broke off. He saw, he watched “his mates” die as he fell. When he got back to the UK he visited all six families of his crew as well as writing to tell them.
    I have only just found out that he was stationed at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire and just found out the names of the crew. I’ve been unable to find any other crews families. Thank you for this opportunity to remember them all, back as “mates”, all the crew.

    The Crew
    R. J. Waugh R.A.F.V.R. Age ? Killed
    B. J. Cooper R.A.F.V.R. Age 21 Killed
    A. T. Rogers R.A.F.V.R. Age 21 Killed
    P. Lunt R.A.F.V.R. Age 21 Killed
    J. G. L. Martin R.A.F.V.R. Age ? Killed
    H. Shakespeare R.A.F. Age 22 Killed
    A. A. D’Oyley R.A.F.V.R. P. O. W. Camp Stalag

    Reply
  • November 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm
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    Dear Joy,
    Please find enclosed a name tape in memory of Tom Wright my husbands uncle who died in the First World War. Also for our friends son who joined the Marines this year in 2014 – Oliver Wardman.
    Thank you for allowing me to participate in this act of remembrance.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2014 at 4:04 pm
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    Dear Joy,
    My name tape is for my grandfather Arthur Thorpe born in 1886 who served with The Sherwood Foresters in World War One. He returned home safely but profoundly deaf from shell shock. He returned home to his wife and children and built up his business building and selling bicycles on Annesley Road, Hucknall. He is remembered with much love.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2014 at 11:54 am
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    Dear Joy,
    Enclosed name tape J. Whitfield in memory of my great uncle John died 22/09/1916 and is buried at FLATIRON COPSE CEMETERY, MAMETZ. Thank you for allowing me to take part in such wonderful idea to commemorate our people who have or who are serving in the armed forces.

    HISTORICAL INFORMATION
    Flatiron Copse was the name given by the army to a small plantation a little to the east of Mametz Wood. The ground was taken by the 3rd and 7th Divisions on 14 July 1916 and an advanced dressing station was established at the copse. The cemetery was begun later that month and it remained in use until April 1917. Two further burials were made in August 1918 and after the Armistice, more than 1,100 graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and from smaller cemeteries.
    http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx?cpage=1&sort=name&order=asc

    Reply
  • December 24, 2014 at 12:56 pm
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    Dear Joy,
    Please find enclosed my embroidered name tape of my father who is now 88 but served in the Navy during WWII and was at the D.Day Landings. After the war he joined the Army and served in Germany where he met my German mother. I was born in Germany and am currently researching my family tree.

    Reply
  • December 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm
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    Dear Joy,
    Many thanks for the opportunity to honour both my grandfathers. Claude Hollingworth is my maternal grandfather and was in the Essex Regiment – Army Veterinary Corps during WW1. He drove ambulances for the Red Cross in Nottingham City during WWII.
    Herbert Webb is my parental grandfather who drove the steam-engined trucks in WW1.

    Reply
  • December 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm
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    Dear Joy,
    Here is my fathers name tape, he was in the Pay Corps – so well back from the front line. His claim to fame was peeing in the next latrine to Monty!

    Reply
  • December 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm
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    Dear Mrs Pitts,
    Percy Clarke, my unknown uncle, died in France on the 16th Feb 1916 aged 21. No. 20672, 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

    Reply
  • December 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm
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    Dear Joy,
    Please find enclosed a name tape for my lovely Grandpa George Thursby. He was gassed in the War, but thankfully survived the horrors of the trenches and lived a full life.

    Reply
  • January 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm
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    Thomas Reginald (Rex) Wilson died 20 November 1917 commanding a tank. He was 20 years old. My mother and I visited his grave. He is remembered at Trent College in the Chapel.

    Reply
  • January 27, 2015 at 8:31 pm
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    Hi Joy,
    It was lovely to meet you at Bromley House Library. It was very moving to see the almost completed Military Boots. Thank you for letting us be part of your art work. S.G.

    Reply
  • February 10, 2015 at 4:23 pm
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    Rifleman William Wheat of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps was killed in action on 21st March, 1918 aged 27. He is commemorated on the memorial at Pozieres British Cemetery in Picardie, France. He was originally a silk worker in Coventry, having joined up in April, 1916. His brother James, also a Rifleman with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action on 6th November, 1918 aged 24. He is buried in the Premont British Cemetery in Northern France. He originally worked in a Coventry cycle factory and joined up at the outbreak of war
    Although we never met our great-uncles, through family research and by commemorating them on the Military Boots name tape, we are able to bring them out of the shadows and remember them

    Reply
    • June 24, 2016 at 6:59 pm
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      William Wheat is my great granddad.

      Reply
  • March 2, 2015 at 11:25 pm
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    I’m proud to say that I submitted name tapes for the following members of my family who are listed on Military Boots:

    Harry Edward Appleton. Born 19.09.1887 in Nottingham. Killed in action in France on 05.07.1916 during the Battle of the Somme.

    Arthur Edward Faulkner. Born 24.09.1886 in Lowdham, Notts. Killed in action in France on 27.04.1917.

    Ernest Goddard. Born 08.02.1890 in Lowdham. Discharged from Army on 04.09.1918 as he was no longer physically fit for military service. He died in Pentrepoeth, Wales on 18.10.1920. He was gassed during the War and this contributed to his early death.

    Francis Nelson. Born 1890 in Burton Joyce, Notts. Killed in action in France on 21.03.1918.

    Harold Arthur Edgar Newton. Born 04.04.1891 in Lowdham. Killed in action in St Eloi, Belgium on 06.04.1916.

    Arthur Parkes. Born 24.09.1889 in Lowdham. Killed in action in France on 23.10.1916.

    Lawrence Charles Brooks Pitt. Born 09.11.1891 in Nottingham. Killed in action in France on 22.02.1916.

    Bertie Roberts. Born 06.04.1885 in Lowdham. Killed in action in France on 05.01.1918.

    Tom Straw. Born 21.05.1889 in Lowdham. Killed in action in France on 24.04.1917.

    Frank Thraves. Born 1892 in Caythorpe, Notts. Died in France from wounds on 20.06.1915.

    Reply
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