The striking 12-foot-tall memorial was commissioned, designed and built by the Gulf War Memorial Trust Appeal (GWMTA) – a small committee comprising Gulf War veterans and three family members of the 47 fallen.
The memorial is the culmination of a three-and-a-half year fundraising campaign by the small group of supporters who raised £70,000 for the project. The memorial was realised thanks to a £35,000 contribution from the Kuwaiti government and another £35,000 raised by the GWMTA through a series of fundraising parties, sponsored parachute jumps and golf tournaments.
The Gulf War Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire
The memorial features three pillars which represent Britain’s three Armed Forces. A centre stone carries the image of the reverse of the Gulf Medal engraved in black granite. Each of the 47 paving stones, which are laid out in concentric circles, carries the name of one of the fallen.
Beneath the centre stone, there are 48 poppies from the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015 – one poppy for each of the 47 fallen and a solitary poppy for veterans who have passed away since the conflict.
The memorial was designed by Civilian Committee (Civ Com) member Ian Beedles – a former Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire Wing Air Training Corps cadet and former Royal Air Force MT driver to Central & East Region Air Cadets Commandant Group Captain Hepburn.
The National Memorial Arboretum was chosen as the location for the memorial as it also houses the Armed Forces Memorial, commemorating all who lost their lives in Service since the Second World War, and hundreds of other Armed Forces memorials.
"This memorial has taken 25 years to come to fruition. It's long overdue for the 47 guys who never came back. Now they've got something for their friends, families, colleagues to pay their respects to."Kevin Doughty – Chairman, Gulf War Memorial Trust Appeal
Aerial image showing over 2,000 people attending the dedication (courtesy of www.aair.biz)
Unveiling the memorial – 28 February 2016
The memorial was unveiled at a special dedication service which marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the First Gulf War which began in 1990 and ended when Iraqi forces were driven from Kuwait in February 1991. Over 2,000 family members, friends and veterans attended a service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire on 28 February 2016.
The Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Khaled Al-Duwaisan, unveiled the memorial to the 47 British personnel who were killed in Operation Granby – the British military contribution to the liberation of Kuwait – and all those who fought in the conflict.
British Army padre David Johnstone led a service of dedication during which the names of those killed in the operation were read aloud. After the service, family members and colleagues laid wreaths and floral tributes around the base of the memorial.
VISITING THE MEMORIAL
The Gulf War Memorial is just one of over 320 memorials available to visit at the National Memorial Arboretum, part of The Royal British Legion. The UK's year-round centre of Remembrance is situated in Staffordshire in the heart of the National Forest near Alrewas and is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9am until dusk. Entrance to the Arboretum is free though parking charges may apply and donations are welcome. Visit www.thenma.org.uk for more information.