History and Honour
Children begin construction of Armed Forces memorial
7 Aug 06
Heather, aged 5, and Kirsty, aged 2, the daughters of Corporal Robin McLachlan, cut the first turf in the construction of the Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire, on Friday 4 August 2006.
Kirsty and Heather cut the first turf, along with mother Jill, at The Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire.
Their father's name, along with 16,000 other members of the UK Armed Forces who have been killed on duty since the Second World War, are to be commemorated on this new national Memorial.
There are memorials to the World Wars in towns and villages across the nation, but the Armed Forces Memorial, which is being built at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, will now record the names of those who have been killed on duty, or as a result of terrorist action, since 1948, as a consequence of serving their country.
The names of members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Merchant Navy who have died in conflict zones while in direct support of the Armed Forces will also be included on the Monument.
Vice Admiral Sir John Dunt KCB, Chairman of the Armed Forces Memorial Trust, said:
"The Armed Forces Memorial will change the way the nation remembers those whose names will be included on its walls, providing an important reminder to us all that our Servicemen and women are killed in many different circumstances; while on exercise, during operations, on peacekeeping duties or as a result of training accidents as well as battle casualties.
"This memorial is needed because at the moment there isn't one place that acts as a focus for all members of the Armed Services killed since the Second World War. This is an important project and one that has been recognised as important by the Defence Secretary."
Cpl Robin McLachlan's family is one family amongst many who have been affected by the loss of a key member through serving in the forces.
"They were delighted to begin the construction on our behalf," said Admiral Dunt.
"My husband proudly served in difficult conflicts in Bosnia and Northern Ireland. A memorial like this is about recognising the sacrifice made by Robin, his family and in particular his two amazing daughters – it doesn't matter to me that he wasn't on the ‘front line'."
Explaining the personal significance the memorial will have, Robin's widow Jill McLachlan, said:
"Death does not discriminate according to context or place. A death in a road traffic accident in Germany is no less painful for the family than a death in Iraq. Many Service personnel are killed carrying out their duty outside of conflict zones – surely their commitment deserves to be recognised.
"My husband proudly served in difficult conflicts in Bosnia and Northern Ireland. A memorial like this is about recognising the sacrifice made by Robin, his family and in particular his two amazing daughters – it doesn't matter to me that he wasn't on the ‘front line'.
"The Memorial is about recognising and valuing Robin. It is a place that his children and family can talk about and visit with pride."
Although some people felt the Memorial should be located in London Admiral Dunt felt that its impact may be lost amongst the many other memorials found in the capital. He added:
"By having the Memorial in the heart of the country it will be much more accessible for people from all over the country to come and pay their respects.
"We believe a significant number of people will visit the Memorial year on year, and from time to time we hope to hold small ceremonies aimed at specific conflicts, such as the Falklands and Iraq and even going back to Korea."
A model of The Armed Forces Memorial.
[Picture: The Armed Forces Memorial Appeal]
The National Memorial Arboretum is owned by the Royal British Legion. It provides a living and lasting focus for remembrance essentially for those who have lost their lives or suffered in the service of their country. The Chairman of the National Memorial Arboretum Trustees, Colonel John Barkshire CBE said:
"We are delighted that the Arboretum has been chosen as the site for the Armed Forces Memorial which will become the major focus for commemoration in the centre of the United Kingdom. It will be a most significant part of the nation's heritage."
The design of the Armed Forces Memorial was selected following an international competition. A panel of Judges spent a week sifting through 50 entries before agreeing on the winning design by architect Liam O'Connor. The memorial will be enhanced by the inclusion of sculptures by Ian Rank-Broadley, best known for his effigy of the Queen, which has appeared on all UK and Commonwealth coinage since 1998.
"It is a superb design," said Admiral Dunt. "We took it to our Patron, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and he was delighted with it. A traditional design, and built of Portland Stone it will stand the test of time."
The Armed Forces Memorial Trust is raising the money for the Memorial through public subscription. It is costing £6 million and the Trust still needs to raise £3 million to complete the construction.
"The Armed Forces Memorial will change the way the nation remembers those whose names will be included on its walls, providing an important reminder to us all that our Servicemen and women are killed in many different circumstances."
Vice Admiral Sir John Dunt KCB
Admiral Dunt concluded:
"Like the World War Memorials before it the Armed Forces Memorial will be funded by public subscription. My fellow trustees and me will now be concentrating all our efforts on raising the money for a planned Royal opening in October 2007.
"Helping us to raise the remaining funds will ensure that those who have given us their lives are remembered today, tomorrow and forever."
You can make a donation to the Armed Forces Memorial Appeal online at www.forcesmemorial.org.uk or send a cheque to The Armed Forces Memorial Appeal, First Floor, Zone A, St George's Court, 2-12 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2SH.