Carved with pride – wood carvings of war images impress

If a picture speaks a thousand words, how many do these incredible wood carvings say?

These powerful images, created by chisel, form a series of relief wood carvings which capture the spirit of the First and Second World Wars.

by Des Lindley German Grenadiers

German Grenadiers by Des Lindley

In all, more than 8,000 dedicated hours’ work by 54 talented members of the West Riding Woodcarvers’ Association, have gone into 95 individual carvings depicting scenes from the conflicts.

The idea to create the panels came from Association members who wanted to commemorate the horror, suffering, courage and human spirit of those who took part in the two world wars.

John Murphy, woodcarver and association secretary, told Britain at War magazine: “We planned two panels with five ‘theme areas’ which were air, sea, Europe, Home Front and rest of the world to identify and separate the main conflict zones associated with each of the World Wars.

“Many hundreds of hours were eventually spent in selecting and eliminating countless numbers of the pictures collected. Our aim was to cover as many sectors of the armed forces and civilian population, which played a part in both conflicts, as possible.

“We considered it essential that those groups such as the Bevin Boys, the Land Army girls, fire fighters and the animals used in war were equally represented along with the front line fighting forces.”

Brian Hodgson Advance Dressing Station

Advance Dressing Stationby Brian Hodgson

The result is the impressive beautifully-worked pieces which form two magnificent panels measuring 10 feet by five feet. They were officially unveiled and presented for permanent display by Prince Michael of Kent, at a special service of remembrance at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds last year.

John said: “The Museum is Britain’s oldest museum and has one of the greatest and most comprehensive collections of arms and armour in the world and, therefore, a perfect match to the military theme of our project.”

The First World War panel depicts airships, ground crew loading bombs, biplanes and sappers tunnelling under enemy lines. It also captures the horror of the trenches and the conflict in all corners of the world.

Many of the pieces such as a mother saying goodbye to her son and the casualties of gas are thought-provoking and moving – as is the carving of a simple, white feather. The Order of the White Feather was founded in 1914 to shame young men into enlisting.

David Hey Russian Convoy

Russian Convoy by David Hey

The Land Girls and the women of the Salvation Army and the vital roles they played are also featured. The aircraft of the Second World War are celebrated in the second panel, from Hawker Typhoons to Spitfires, as well as the Avro Lancaster bomber. The Battle of Britain has also been interpreted, along with Dunkirk, D-Day, Arnhem and Colditz and the horrors of Hiroshima.

John, from Halifax, west Yorks, said: “We are thrilled with the reception the panels have received so far. We hope people will enjoy looking at these carvings just as much as we have loved being part of this project.”

The West Riding Woodcarvers’ Association is helping to raise funds for the Forget-me-Not Trust children’s hospice. Help support their work by making a donation.

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