First World War ‘Tommies’ have sprung up all over Sydney as the fourth Invictus Games gets underway…

The Tommies are part of the ‘There But Not There’ campaign which is raising money for veterans’ charities, including Prince Harry’s Invictus Games Foundation.

The six foot soldier silhouettes slowly started peppering the famous Sydney skyline this morning, appearing in front of the Opera Hose, Harbour Bridge, Woolloomooloo Naval Base from which Australian troops departed during the War and Bondi Beach.

The First World War commemorative campaign started in February of this year. In just eight months it has become a global movement, with Tommy installations appearing in New York, San Francisco, Ottawa, Toronto, Gibraltar, Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and now Sydney.

The fundraising initiative has so far raised in excess £4m for armed forces charities, including the Invictus Games Foundation. The charity revealed earlier this month however, that a tax bill of over £800,000 will sadly make HM Revenue & Customs the largest beneficiary.

In response a petition was set up by the campaign Director, Rowley Gregg MC, to lobby the Chancellor for a tax rebate on the sale of commemorative Tommies. As of last night, that petition had been signed by 120,000 people.

Veterans Minister Tobias Elwood, who is currently in Sydney for the Invictus Games, took the unusual step of publicly calling on Philip Hammond to back the campaign. Issuing a statement through the charity he said: “…I hope you agree, given the optics of this and the good causes supported, that there is a strong case for VAT to be exempted.”

Former British Army Captain Rowley Gregg MC, who has overseen the launch of the campaign down under said: “I have spent the last three days watching and listening to the inspiring stories of hundreds of veterans. This campaign, while commemorating the sacrifice made by our forebears 100 years ago, is raising money for the wounded warriors today, like those taking part at these Invictus Games.

“£800,000 to the tax man is £800,000 not going to help veterans who have sacrificed everything in service to their country. Supporting their health, both mental and physical, is my concern. I hope this Government feels the same. They still have time to do the right thing.”

Brigadier Phil Winter, Director General of the Invictus Games, Sydney and Director General of the Centenary of ANZAC for the Australian Defence Force said: “It’s been wonderful to have the Tommies arrive out here less than a month away from the Armistice…it is a great way for people to reflect on our ANZAC Centenary.”

Brigadier Winter continued: “It’s good to see so many young folk, especially members of our Invictus Games Team, stopping to have their photo taken with these very moving silhouettes.”