A service to re-dedicate the Basra Memorial Wall, the monument to the 178 UK service personnel and one MOD civilian who lost their lives serving on Operation TELIC, will take place on 11 March at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The original memorial was built in Basra in 2006 and stood outside the front of the Headquarters of the Multi-National Division (South East). Following the end of combat operations in April 2009, the wall was dismantled and returned to Britain. It is currently being re-erected at the arboretum, close to the Armed Forces Memorial.
Families and friends of those who fell will be joined by senior government representatives and military Chiefs to remember those who gave their lives over the six year operation.
Minister of State for the Armed Forces Bill Rammell said:
“The Basra Memorial Wall is hugely significant for the families of those who fell during operations in Iraq, and for those who served alongside them.
“I hope the memorial will provide a place for people to come together and pay tribute to those remarkable men and women who gave their lives setting Iraq on the path to stability and prosperity.”
Brigadier John Palmer, whose son Lieutenant Richard Palmer of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006, said:
“All our family is tremendously proud of our son, Richard, and what he was achieving in Iraq. Whilst nothing can make his tragic loss any easier, we, and the other families, will have a new focal point for our remembrance.
“We will be honoured to attend the dedication service and hope that as well as being a uniquely personal memorial for us, it will become a national memorial so that people will not forget the sacrifices made by people like Richard.”
Chief Executive of the National Memorial Arboretum, Charlie Bagot-Jewitt said:
“Many of our memorials provide a way for the Nation to acknowledge its fallen men and women. The Basra Memorial Wall is different as it was conceived, built and maintained by the colleagues of those that died. As a result, it has assumed an even greater poignancy. The Arboretum
will be a fitting home for the wall.”
Notes to Editors:
1. In December 2008 The Prime Minister and the then Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton made a commitment to bring the Basra Memorial Wall home to a fitting resting place in Britain. The National Memorial Arboretum was chosen as the ideal site in close proximity to the Armed Forces Memorial, which lists all personnel who have lost their lives while on duty since 1948, including those honoured on the Basra Memorial Wall.
2. As well as listing the 179 UK lives, the wall also lists members of Coalition Forces who were killed whilst under UK command during six years of conflict. The wall was built and eventually dismantled by British soldiers from 37 Armoured Engineer Squadron, a personal gesture to commemorate their fallen comrades.
3. The National Memorial Arboretum is Britain’s year-round centre of remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen and recognises suffering and sacrifice. Part of the Royal British Legion family of charities, the Arboretum is sited in Staffordshire, containing 50,000 maturing trees and 160 memorials, and attracting around 300,000 visitors per year.
4. Attendance at the service will be by invitation only and the majority of the congregation will consist of the families and friends of those who lost their lives and are commemorated on the wall.
5. Where possible, the new Basra Memorial Wall incorporates elements of the original structure that stood in Iraq. The central marble tablet, which was blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen at a service at St Paul’s Cathedral last October commemorating UK operations in Iraq 2003-2009, will form the centrepiece of the wall. It is inscribed with lines from the Book of Wisdom: “Honourable age does not depend on length of days, nor is the number of years a true measure of life”. All of the brass plaques which will hang on the wall – each one listing a life – are the plaques from the original wall. Unfortunately the bricks used in the original construction cannot withstand the UK weather conditions, so instead they have been used to form the foundations and core of the wall, while the outside has been faced in marble.
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