The National Memorial Arboretum

Uploaded by royalbritishlegion on 06.04.2010

The National Memorial Arboretum is Britain’s year-round centre of Remembrance;
a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises suffering and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country.
The Arboretum is part of the Royal British Legion family of charities.
Sited in the heart of the Nation, with 50,000 maturing trees and 160 memorials,
it is a beautiful and lasting tribute to those who serve their country or who have died in conflict.
This living memorial to the armed forces and civilians of this country was officially opened by
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent in 2001 and ever since then has provided a place of Remembrance and contemplation
for everyone, not just those who have lost a loved one in conflict.
Planting began here in 1997 on a reclaimed site, gifted by Lafarge, and during the excavation of a neighbouring field in 2002
digger driver Ray Davis came across one of the more unusual finds, a 40,000 year-old woolly rhino skull!
The centrepiece of the Arboretum is the Armed Forces Memorial which commemorates all the members
of the Armed Forces who have died in conflict, terrorist attack or on training exercises since the end of the Second World War
to the current war in Afghanistan. The Memorial was dedicated on 12th October 2007 by the Archbishop of Canterbury
in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.
The Memorial comprises two straight walls and two curved walls and it is on these that almost 16,000 names are recorded.
Sadly, there is space for as many again.
Every spring the names of those who have died during the previous year are hand engraved on the memorial and in June,
a formal rededication ceremony is held.
The names of the fallen are recorded in date order, meaning that colleagues who died
in the same incident are grouped together on the memorial.
The Armed Forces Memorial symbolises recognition and thanks for all those who have given their lives in the line of duty,
but it is especially important for those families who do not have a grave to visit.
It provides a focal point for Remembrance, not just on Armistice Day, but all year round.
The first memorial to be dedicated at the Arboretum was the Polar Bear in June 1998.
It commemorates the 49th Infantry West Riding Division which was stationed in Iceland during WWII.
They were snowed in under 20ft of snow for most of the campaign which led to their commanding officer calling them ‘his Polar Bears’.
The statue is carved from yellow hardwood, representing the polar bear on ice which became the division’s mascot,
and inside the bear is a capsule containing the names of those who did not return.
Following the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq a new Basra Memorial Wall was rededicated on 11th March 2010.
The wall incorporates the marble centre stone and brass plaques bearing the names of each of the
178 UK personnel and one MoD civilian who were killed from the original memorial.
All bricks from the first Basra Memorial Wall have been incorporated in the foundations of its UK counterpart
as they would not be able to withstand British weather conditions.
Close to the car park and the entrance to the Arboretum is The British Berlin Airlift Memorial.
The striking, life size wooden carving of a golden eagle is a tribute to those who took part in the Berlin Airlift,
an operation to deliver food and supplies to a besieged Berlin between June 1948 and May 1949.
The 39 fruit trees that are planted behind the eagle represent the 39 lives that were lost.
The poignant Shot at Dawn memorial remembers the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers
who were shot during World War One for desertion or cowardice.
The statue has been modelled on Private Herbert Burden of 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
who was shot in Ypres aged 17.
The statue is in the most easterly point of the Arboretum, making it the first place to be touched by dawn light.
The Royal Army Medical Corps is remembered in a wood of red and gold leaved trees
which are individually dedicated to members of the Corps.
The central avenue is planted with purple leaved trees in tribute to the 29 members who were awarded
the Victoria Cross, including two men who gained the award twice.
Working animals are also remembered at the Arboretum and the Red Paw Memorial commemorates the 6 handlers
and 2 dogs of the Army Dog Unit who were killed in conflict in Northern Ireland.
The red paw represents the bloodied feet of the search dogs who worked in the rubble of bombed buildings.
The Arboretum isn’t only about memorials. The ever-changing landscape and rich diversity of wildlife
provide the perfect environment for quiet contemplation.
32 of the 33 species of tree that are native to the UK have been planted in the Arboretum.
The rivers, lakes, ponds and woodland provide the perfect habitat for a wide range of birds and animals including
brown hares, skylarks, lapwings, otters as well as the occasional kingfisher if you’re lucky!
As visitor numbers to the Arboretum continue to increase we will be improving facilities and expanding the site
supported by the NMA Appeal, and we are proud to have Prince William as Appeal patron.
The Appeal was launched in April 2009 and aims to raise £8 million towards the building of a Veterans’ Pavilion,
Education and Interpretation Centres and Heroes Square.
These will enable the Arboretum to host more events, functions and acts of remembrance
and allow expansion of the education programme for schoolchildren.
The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s all-year round centre for Remembrance and we thank you
for your support that allows us to keep this important location open to all who wish to visit.