The National Memorial Arboretum is an inspiring thought provoking, and I would say, an essential place to visit if you are are moored in Alrewas. It’s about a 45 minute walk from the canal. We were there for the whole day and still didn’t see it all. My words can not do the sentiment of the place justice, because not only is the venue vast but also the enormity of the depth and breadth of sacrifice and service is overwhelming. And way beyond agreeing with the rights and the wrongs of war, I think it is appropriate that as a country we have a place to acknowledge the freedoms we have because of the service of so many.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I expected to see on our visit. There are over 300 memorials and 30 000 trees. You’ll be glad to know I didn’t count or photograph them all. Some memorials are representative showing servicemen going above and beyond, like the Army medical corp. When I think back to my nursing career in the safety of an NHS hospital, I’d have been given the sack if I had moved a patient like this but this medic got his patient to care despite the potential consequences of his own safety.
This Eagle is the emblem of the Army Air corp. There were many magnificent beasts honouring various regiments but we don’t have a familiar allegiance to any one in particular so I chose to share this one because it impressed me.
Some represented the suffering of service men and women, this one paying tribute to those with mental health issues and post traumatic stress.
And some represented our serviceman and women at work, as in this Bomb disposal officer.
This poignant sculpture called Shot at Dawn acknowledging our errors when our conscripted young men, terrified at what was confronting them fled rather than face the enemy. They were court marshalled, stripped of their regimental insignia and shot for desertion. It was a brutal and unforgivable punishment, carried out without justice as one young soldier wrote home to his mum that he was suffering with a cold and needed some fresh air to clear his head, he had been arrested and “was in a spot of bother, but would sort it out in the morning” the wooden posts behind the sculpture all had a name plaque, and their age, sadly some only 16 years old, having lied to get into the army so they could serve our country.