Discover a Woodland of Remembrance
I found these photos of the National Arboretum Staffordshire when looking through my photo folder. Straightaway, it reminded me of what a lovely place this is for a day out. We visited in October 2012. Shortly before Remembrance Sunday when the Arboretum obviously gains more attention.
In fact, the memorials here commemorate many people, not just those who died in conflicts. Although many of the memorials do just that. As well as being a beautiful site for remembrance the National Arboretum Staffordshire is also a wonderful natural environment. As I said, I took these photos in 2012 so I’m sure the natural settings has evolved considerably by now. I plan to visit again very soon to see how much it’s changed. In essence, it’s a worthwhile reminder that there’s plenty of travel opportunities in our own country. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share these photos with you.
The Armed Forces Memorial
The Armed Forces Memorial, as shown above, is the centrepiece of the arboretum. It remembers more than 16,000 members of the Armed Forces who have died since the Second World War. Indeed, it’s a truly spectacular memorial, consisting of two huge curved walls. Walking around, I found the sheer number of names engraved upon it made me think. Indeed, it is a very moving memorial.
The Corps of Royal Engineers Memorial
Overall, one of the things you notice is the variety of memorials. You see many unique designs. Obviously, a lot of thought has gone into them. Significantly, each one is designed and crafted to provide an individual perspective. They commemorate different groups of people. All of whom served their country. Richard Kindersley designed this memorial for the Royal Engineers. They requested that he use these huge granite blocks, donated by the Falkland Islands.
Royal Hampshire Regiment Memorial
This memorial commemorates the Royal Hampshire Regiment. It remembers those who fought in the Boer War and also both World Wars. Over 10,000 soldiers from Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands fought for the regiment and gave their lives during the two world wars. The memorial, as shown above, consists of a bronze tiger standing on a polished black plinth.
I really like this simple stone memorial. In the shape of a cairn, it is made of natural stone. On top is a simple Latin cross. It remembers the Allied Forces who fought for the capture of Monte Cassino which took place during the Italian Campaign in World War II.
Military Police Memorial
The memorial to those members of the military police who gave their lives in the service of their country.
The Logistic Grove
This unusual memorial commemorates the Royal Logistics Corps. In the grove, you’ll find lots of different species of trees, for instance, Acer, Cherry, Mountain Ash, Oak and Walnut.
The Royal Tank Regiment
The memorial to the Royal Tank Regiment, as shown above, and below, has, perhaps not unsurprisingly, a tank on the top of it.
This striking memorial commemorates the Polish contribution during the Second World War. It consists of a statue of 4 different Polish soldiers. One each from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Polish Underground Home Army. They stand underneath the outspread wings of an Eagle to indicate their united stand. It is surrounded by curved walls carved with the name of those remembered.
Of course, it’s not only those who fight who contribute to the war effort. This simple yet elegant memorial is dedicated to Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Corps.
Shot at Dawn Memorial
The story behind this memorial fascinates me. It is what prompted me to visit the National Arboretum Staffordshire. During the First World War, nobody understood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Shell Shock, as they called it then, was deemed an act of cowardice. Nowadays, we understand that it was no such thing. I researched representations of cowardice and desertion during World War I as part of my doctoral thesis. One of my photos of the memorial is actually included in it. It’s a particularly poignant memorial. It was placed at the arboretum in 2001. Sadly, it was not until 2007 that the government finally granted pardons to the 306 men it represents.
When I first saw this memorial it surprised me. There’s a fairground horse next to it. It commemorates members of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain who died during the two World Wars.
The Royal Corps of Signals
This circular tribute is dedicated to those who have served and those who are still serving in the Royal Corps of Signals. It’s surrounded by benches, as shown above, so sit a while and admire it.
Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces
The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces National Memorial commemorates those who have died on active service since 1940. The memorial sculpture shows a Greek hero mounted on Pegasus. As well as the statue, you can see a paratrooper pulling his pack up the mount.
The Railway Industry Memorial
The memorial for railway workers is appropriately topped with a train, as shown above. All in all, I enjoyed finding these unusual displays.
Home Front Memorial
This interesting stone memorial is dedicated to those who worked towards the war effort on the Home Front during WWII. The Home Front during World War I is another focus of my thesis. So I was delighted to find this.
St John Ambulance
If you look at this memorial from above you’ll see the emblem of St John Ambulance. Above all, it’s a reminder that the memorials at the arboretum commemorate people who have served their country in many ways. Not just in conflict.
Visiting the National Memorial Arboretum Staffordshire
I’ve shown you some of the photos from our visit but there are a lot more things to see. As I have said, I’ll have to go back. I’d like to encourage you to visit the National Memorial Arboretum Staffordshire and see for yourself. The site is open every day except Christmas Day. The gates are open from 9 am to 5 pm and entry is free. Although obviously, you can make a donation.
Where is the National Arboretum?
You’ll find the Arboretum right in the centre of England. You can put the postcode DE13 7AR into your sat nav. It’s on Croxall Road in Alrewas, Staffordshire. Thus, the Arboretum is easy to get to from any part of the country. If you drive, it is close to several motorways. There is also plenty of parking. You can park all day for £3. Be aware that this charge also applies to Blue Badge holders. Also, note that you need to pay in coins so take plenty of change with you.
You can also travel to the Arboretum by train. Lichfield Trent Valley is the closest railway station. It’s approximately 5 miles away. Lichfield City is further but makes a better alternative as it has better public transport links. Alternatively, Burton upon Trent and Tamworth are about 8 miles away.
From Burton Upon Trent or Lichfield, you can take the 812 bus. Get off at Alrewas Village. Then it is about 30 minutes walk to the Arboretum. You can check the timetable at Midland Classic buses website.
You can also spend time viewing the displays in the visitor centre. Or relax with a cup of tea or coffee at a pleasant coffee shop. If you’re hungry they also have a restaurant for lunch. The Restaurant is open from 9 am to 4.30 pm. All the money goes to charity. Additionally, they have daily talks and other activities. So there’s something for everyone. Check out their website for detail
Fancy some shopping? Of course, there’s a gift shop onsite. Open from 9 am to 5 pm you can buy lots of souvenirs. For instance, books, jewellery, clothing, candles and home accessories, tasty treats and poppy gifts. Additionally, they have the usual pocket money items. And, of course, it’s for a good cause.
The Land Train
Finally, I should mention the land train. It is a large site so if you can’t walk that far this is an option. Basically, you hop on the train and take a 50-minute ride around the park. You can buy tickets onsite but I’d book tickets online in advance online. Tickets cost £6 per adult and £3 for children. Children under 5 are free. You won’t see all the memorials but you will get a good introduction to the park.