National naval memorial unveiled in Staffordshire
- 15 June 2014
- From the section Stoke & Staffordshire
A memorial for all those who have served in the Royal Navy and associated services has been unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum.
The glass sculpture at Alrewas, Staffordshire, was commissioned by the Royal Naval Association (RNA) which described it as the nation's first "all-inclusive memorial".
Prince Michael of Kent performed the ceremony in front of 1,500 veterans.
It will be known as the Naval Service Memorial.
The memorial is made up of 13 glass panels, which its designer Graeme Mitcheson described as "sails of coloured glass" representing the oceans around the world.
A bowed figure stands beside the panels, facing the setting sun and when light passes through them, Mr Mitcheson said, "the shadows will project onto this white terrace and it will become like a pool of water of the five oceans."
The theme for the memorial was described as being: "At the going down of the sun we will remember them'.
Mr Mitcheson said: "It's been a real honour, this has taken up my life for the last 12 months."
Caroline Wyatt, BBC defence correspondent
The dedication ceremony combined remembrance and thanksgiving for those who have served and given their lives, those who are serving now and for the future of the Royal Navy - here in the form of the cadets standing smartly to attention.
Nearby stood others who served in World War Two and conflicts after that, whether in the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Marines or on submarines.
Among those watching silently as the memorial was unveiled was naval widow Gillian Molyneux, whose husband Ian was killed on HMS Astute in 2011 trying to save others in his crew when a shipmate ran amok. Her two eldest sons, naval cadets themselves aged 16 and 15, stood to attention as the memorial was unveiled.
"I think of Ian every minute of every day," says Gill. "It's particularly hard today, on father's day, but we come to the arboretum every year.
"It's nice for the children to remember not just the sombre moments but to recognize his service and everything that was wonderful about him as well."
Rita Lock served in the Women's Royal Naval Service, known as the Wrens, and lost her husband, a veteran of the Fleet Air Arm, in February.
"I've had a good look at it and it's fantastic - it's so different," she said.
"It's the epitome of all the different seas we sail across. It just encompasses how we all feel from the Royal Navy."
Captain Paul Quinn, General Secretary of the RNA, explained the navy wanted to create "something for everyone".
He said there was a collection of smaller naval memorials.
"[But] we didn't have anything for the naval service, which is the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Wrens and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary," he said.
Arboretum officials said the idea had been in the planning for a number of years.
It has been created to mark the 60th anniversary of the RNA getting its Royal Charter.
Vice Admiral John MacAnally, President of the Royal Naval Association, said: "This striking design breaks with tradition, whilst incorporating the essence of the sea in all its moods."
The dedication ceremony included a fly-past by the Fleet Air Arm and a parade by members of Royal Naval Associations from around the country.