Monday, 28 July 2008

National Memorial Arboretum

Still moored at Alrewas.

With another scorching hot day heading our way we headed off to the National Memorial Arboretum which when you know where to go is only a 20 minute walk from the canal. Unfortunately we got the direction slightly wrong and it took us nearly an hour to get there but coming back we got it right.

It turned out that the day we chose to visit was the 55th anniversary of the cessation of the Korean war and returned servicemen and women from all over the country were present. We actually felt quite sorry for these guys who would have all been in their 70's and 80's all dressed up in beret's, blazers and grey flannel trousers under the searing heat of the sun especially when the main service, which was conducted out in the open air Amphitheatre, took nearly an hour.

The whole event had been arranged by the British Korean Veterans Association and the Korean Ambassador and Defence Attache were present as guest speakers. Music for the event was provided by the combined band of the Lancashire Artillery and Duke of Lancaster Regiment.

We watched some of the proceedings and spent the rest of the time wandering around the many sections of this memorial not just to military forces but also the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, the Ambulance service, the Irish conflict and Home Guard personnel killed in Britain during bombing raids.

The NMA is set out as a huge park and there are plenty of places to sit and remember old friends and comrades. There are thousands of tree's planted around the site and they all commemorate a fallen soldier or airman or seaman, a regiment, or squadron. If you are looking for a particular unit or person you can ask at reception and they will tell you where to look instead of having to hunt all around the park. There was also many plaques saved from buildings now demolished where the likes of insurance companies had a roll of honour of members of staff killed in various incidents around the world. Sitting high up on a mound overlooking the whole site is a new Armed Forces Memorial with all the names of service people killed in conflicts since the end of WWII.

As we were leaving we got talking to one of the volunteers that help run the NMA and she told us that they get around 1000 visitors a day and they are hoping that the demolished Alrewas railway station which was nearby will be rebuilt which will allow more people to visit.

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