Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Memorial coming home brick by brick

A memorial wall in Basra, which was erected in honour of the 179 British troops who died in Iraq, is being dismantled brick by brick to be transported back to Staffordshire.

The wall, which was the focal point of last Thursday’s memorial service to mark the end of the British operation, is to be re-built at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas. Members of 37 Armoured Engineer Squadron began dismantling the wall yesterday.

The memorial at Alrewas will utilise the brass plaques and marble centre stone to replicate the existing memorial which is engraved with a quote from the Bible’s Book of Wisdom: “Honourable age does not depend on length of days, nor is number of years a true measure of life.”

It is expected to be ready by July next year.

Iraq’s Government is making a contribution towards the cost in gratitude for the sacrifice of the British servicemen during the six years, one month and 11 days of the mission.

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth said: “They deserve a fitting memorial in the UK so their families can pay tribute in a tranquil, dignified setting.”

The memorial will also bear names of fallen troops and civilian contractors from other coalition nations in the former British-controlled area of Iraq.

The Basra wall was built by servicemen, in front of 20th Armoured Brigade headquarters at the main coalition military base. A dedication service is planned for next year to unveil the re-built memorial.

Peter Cleminson, national chairman of The Royal British Legion, said: “The memorial wall gave service men and women in southern Iraq a very personal way of remembering colleagues that had been killed. By choosing to bring this wall to the arboretum, which sits in the very heart of the country, it will become a place where family and friends can also now come to mourn and remember.”

* A summer open evening is being held tonight at the arboretum where the Armed Forces’ Memorial opened in 2007.

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