Sunday, 13 November 2011

The National Memorial Arboretum .........

Today, Remembrance Sunday, seems an appropriate day to publish this post which has been in draft for a couple of weeks.

Apologies for the inconsistent font and photographs and text which seem to be in the wrong place. In the draft and post editing everything is fine but somehow (and I have spent the last hour trying to rectify it) everything jumps about! Not only does it jump about, it jumps to different places everytime I preview or publish. If I didn't know better I'd think it was April 1st ...... Is anyone else experiencing this problem?

The National Memorial Arboretum is on the edge of the National Forest at Alrewas near Lichfield. We’ve been meaning to visit for a while and a couple of weeks ago took advantage of a beautiful autumn day. We were surprised when we arrived to see that the car park was almost full so other people obviously had the same idea! We really didn’t know what to expect, although the large Armed Forces Memorial had been fairly well publicised when it was dedicated (I think there is a better word for this but it has escaped me!).

Entry is free, although donations towards the upkeep are welcomed. There is shop and a very nice café/restaurant which serves everything from carvery lunches to tea and scones.

We were amazed by the size and scale of the place. Besides the large Memorial there are over two hundred and fifty other memorial areas spread out over the 150 acre site with over 50,000 trees planted. You can find a link to the website here.

The Memorial is a stunning piece of architecture designed by Liam O'Connor. It consists of a large high earth mound with a spiralling walkway up the grassy, tree-planted slopes making it accessible to people of all ages and mobility.

At the top of the mound stands a forty three metre diameter stone structure with two curved walls and two straight walls, constructed of over two hundred thousand bricks faced with Portland stone panels. The panels have engraved on them over sixteen thousand names.

The centrepiece of the Memorial is two large bronze sculptures, representing loss and sacrifice, on either side of a central bronze laurel wreath. Created by Ian Rank-Broadley, the sculptures bear silent witness to the cost of armed conflict. The figure before the double doors points to a world beyond, where the warrior will rest as another figure chisels the name on the memorial.

The Memorial was constructed to provide recognition of the men and women of our Armed Services who have lost their lives in conflict or as a result of terrorist action or on training exercises since the end of the Second World War. Unlike the World War memorials in towns and villages across the country, there is nowhere that records the names of those who have been killed on duty since 1945, in over fifty conflicts throughout the world.

These actions have ranged from war to peacekeeping; from humanitarian assistance to fighting terrorism; from the jungles of Malaysia to the storms of the South Atlantic; from the streets of Aden to the streets of Northern Ireland.

As the information states, “it is not just Service men and women who have made sacrifices. Behind every name on the Memorial there are the wives, husbands, partners, parents, children, friends and colleagues who loved them and who live with the pain and consequences of their loss every day”.

A couple of the memorials with particular significance to us were for the RAF and Bevin Boys. My brother is a serving officer in the RAF and has completed four tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan, and Tim's parents met whilst serving in WW2.

The Bevin Boys were recruited to work in the mines from 1943. My father was one such recruit to the pits of South Wales in 1940, aged just 14, before the term had even been thought about......

Another poignant memorial was in memory of soldiers who had been shot as deserters in WW1. Many of these would have been very young, terrified and experienced the most awful happenings. Their response was to run ...... 

Many of the visitors were ex-service people, immaculately dressed and proudly wearing their medals paying their respects to lost comrades.

Surprisingly we found our visit to be uplifting rather than morbid or mawkish. We will visit again in a few years to see how the trees grow and site develops, and when I retire it is somewhere I could envisage doing some voluntary work.


  1. Have you been into the html and tried to correct it there?

  2. After I gave my apologies I went in one last time took out all the text, put it into word again and redid the font, put it back into blogger and it now seems OK. I don't want to go back in to edit jus in case it moves again!!

    next time I'll look into the HTML as you suggest. Thanks for the advice :o)

  3. Gaynor, I find the whole process of writing much easier using Windows Live Writer. I had all sorts of annoying problems trying to write the posts using Blogger.

  4. Thanks for a very interesting post. Your photographs really seem to capture a special feeling and peace. My husband is RAF retired so we would definitely be interested in visiting the places you have mentioned.

  5. Jean,
    Thanks for the information. I will experiment with Windows Live Writer as you suggest.

  6. Broad,
    It really is worth a visit as there is so much to see and information that I didn't know about.

  7. We have visited the Arboretum before, but a brief visit, we really need to return. Thanks for the reminder. In reference to Oradour, I'm not sure if I read about it first on your blog or one of your links, but what a haunting place to visit. We were near your area of France, but I think you would have been in the UK while we drove by. Certainly an interesting area of France. My 2 cents, I also have Windows Live Writer and once you get it set up I found it much easier to do posts than in Blogger. That was a while ago I installed it so Blogger may have improved since then. Happy Fall to you!

  8. Laughing Boy and I really want to amazing that you did a post on it.


  9. SP we live about half an hour away. If ever you get to visit pop in for a cup of tea .....or something stronger!

    It is well worth a visit and I don't think you'd be disappointed.