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Artist draws British service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan


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Sam Bailey

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Sam Bailey said she hopes her drawings “gives these conflicts an identity, a face”

An art teacher has sketched every member of the British armed forces who lost their life in this century’s Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts so their deaths did not “become a number”.

Sam Bailey, from Northampton, was inspired to draw the 637 faces when her former partner struggled with depression after leaving the Army.

The pencil images are collected in two self-published books.

The mother of three said all proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion.

Ms Bailey, who teaches at Caroline Chisholm School in Northampton, said: “I felt compelled to tell their stories in a different way.”

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Sam Bailey

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Families of the fallen personnel were involved, with many requesting drawings and sending favoured photos and details to help Ms Bailey with her sketches

She began in 2015 when she set up the Regimental Art Company with her then-partner – former Royal Anglian soldier Alex Salustro.

It took her 12 weeks to draw those killed in the Afghanistan campaign between 2001 and 2014, working from a Ministry of Defence list of names.

She was sketching 27 faces a day at her busiest and added: “The list was overwhelming at first, but I knew once I’d started, I had to complete it.”

The Mighty 456 was published in 2016.

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Sam Bailey

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Not all families wished to provide a photo, so Ms Bailey has used a black and white version of this painting to represent them

Her second volume, The Illustrious 181, depicts every forces member to die in Iraq, and it will be published ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

Among the images is Pte Eleanor Dlugosz, 19, from Southampton, who was killed in a roadside bomb attack.

Ms Bailey said: “Eleanor’s mum didn’t want me to draw her with her hair scraped back in the strict army style – she sent me three beautiful images of her in her carefree youth.”

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Sam Bailey

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Eleanor Dlugosz’s mother holding the finished drawing, which was created at her request from pre-Army images

She said she wanted to give the fallen “an identity, a face… I don’t want these young men and women to become a number”.

The UK lost 179 forces personnel during the Iraq war from 2003 to 2009, but British armed forces remain in Iraq in a training and protection capacity and two more soldiers died there in 2017 and 2018.

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Sam Bailey

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Proceeds from the books will support the work of the Royal British Legion



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