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Coordinates: 52°43′42″N 1°43′43″W / 52.728227°N 1.728550°W / 52.728227; -1.728550 The National Memorial Arboretum is a British site of national remembrance at Alrewas, near Lichfield, Staffordshire. Its objective is to honour the fallen, recognise service and sacrifice, and foster pride in the British Armed Forces and civilian community.

In 2017, after undergoing a large scale regeneration project, the Arboretum's new award-winning Remembrance Centre was officially opened by the Duke of Cambridge on 23 March. Featuring three new exhibition galleries, larger restaurant and shop, separate coffee shop and a courtyard with garden, it provides visitors with facilities fitting that of a large scale visitor attraction.

In 2018 the National Memorial Arboretum was awarded Gold Large Visitor Attraction of the Year in VisitEngland's Awards for Excellence, as well as Coach Friendly Attraction of the Year in the British Coach Tourism Awards.


The idea for the Arboretum was conceived by Commander David Childs CBE in 1988, who wished to establish a national focus or 'centre' for Remembrance. Following a meeting with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC, an appeal was launched in 1994 by the then Prime Minister, John Major. He believed that the Arboretum would form a living tribute to service men and women for future generations to reflect upon and enjoy.

The future of the project became assured when three proposals were agreed. These were: for the site to be the location of the Armed Forces Memorial; for the Ministry of Defence to pay a significant grant-in-aid to allow for free entry and that The Royal British Legion would accept the gift of the site as the focus for the Nation's year-round Remembrance.

The project began with no money, no land, no staff and no trees. The National Lottery, in the form of the Millennium Commission, granted some forty per cent of the funds needed and this was matched by thousands of donations, both large and small, from a wide variety of organisations both military and civilian, men and women, corporate and voluntary.

Planting began on the reclaimed gravel workings, bordered by the Rivers Trent and Tame, gifted to the charity by Lafarge in 1997. The initial planting took place thanks to grants from the Forestry Commission and the National Forest, and since then has been shaped by a staff of thousands: a small paid group; a dedicated and active Friends of the National Memorial Arboretum organisation; and countless others who have either planted individual trees or helped create a memorial for their organisation.

The Arboretum was officially opened on 16 May 2001. It is a registered charity and is part of The Royal British Legion family of charities.


The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas
Aerial view, with River Tame at bottom.

The Arboretum is situated just south of Alrewas on approximately 150 acres (61 ha; 0.23 sq mi) of old gravel workings, 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Lichfield, Staffordshire. It is adjacent to the confluence of the River Tame with the River Trent, and directly neighbouring Croxall Lakes. It is at the western end of the National Forest, just off the A38 road.


The Polar Bear Memorial
The Polar Bear Memorial was the first memorial dedicated on site, on 7 June 1998.

The Arboretum contains 30,000 trees, with more being added each year. There are more than 350 memorials for the armed forces, civilian organisations and voluntary bodies who have played a part in serving the country; and even HMS Amethyst's cat Simon.

At the heart of the Arboretum is the Armed Forces Memorial, which is a tribute to over 16,000 service personnel who have lost their lives in conflict or as a result of terrorism since the end of the Second World War. At 11 am on 11 November each year the sun shines through two slits in the outer and inner walls of the memorial, casting a shaft of light across a wreath in the centre. The Armed Forces Memorial was dedicated in October 2007 by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of the Queen.

Other areas of the site include an RAF 'wing', Naval review and Army parade. Civilian areas include 'The Beat' which contains memorials and dedications to police forces from around the UK and commonwealth.

Within the Arboretum is the Millennium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness where, at 11 am each day, an act of remembrance takes place. Following the two minutes silence, accompanied by the Last Post and Reveille, there is an introductory talk about the arboretum.

Daily Activities on site include guided walks, buggy tours, Land Train rides and free talks, as well as the Daily Act of Remembrance. Most of these activities are conducted by a team of over 260 volunteers, who collectively dedicate more than 52,000 hours of their time per year to the Arboretum. In 2010, the Volunteers of the National Memorial Arboretum were awarded The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.


Some of the other features of the National Memorial Arboretum are described below.

Features Description
Jewish ex-service men and women memorial at NMA.JPG Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women

Made from Chinese granite and designed to give a different perspective when viewed from different angles, the Star of David memorial is dedicated to Jewish servicemen who were killed on duty.

Berlin Airlift Memorial at National Memorial Arboretum.jpg Berlin Airlift Monument The memorial is erected in tribute to those who took part in the Berlin Airlift, the operation to deliver food and supplies to Berlin between June 1948 and May 1949. This sculpture features hundreds of intricate steel feathers. It was designed and manufactured by Anwick Forge in Lincolnshire.
Boys' Brigade Memorial at National Memorial Arboretum.JPG Boys' Brigade

The elements of this garden represent all parts of the UK and Ireland. The Boys' Brigade Garden is designed to remember those who have served in the Brigade since 1883. Sixteen Victoria Crosses have been awarded to former and serving Brigade members.

Burma Railway Memorial at National Memorial Arboretum.JPG Burma Railway

The memorial is constructed from 30 metres of the original rails and sleepers used on the Burma Railway, which were brought to the arboretum from Thailand in HMS Northumberland in 2002. The memorial is a permanent tribute to those who were forced to construct the infamous ‘Railway of Death’ and the benches and trees around the railway track have relevant dedications. The memorial was dedicated on 15 August 2002.

Commandos memorial at National Memorial Arboretum.JPG Commandos

The Commandos were formed by the Army in June 1940 as a well-armed but non-regimental raider force employing unconventional and irregular tactics to assault, disrupt and reconnoitre the enemy.

This memorial consists of a reproduction of part of the Association badge – the wreath in copper and the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife in stainless steel. It was created at Anwick Forge in Lincolnshire.

Polar Bear Memorial at National Memorial Arboretum.JPG Polar Bear Memorial

The Polar Bear Association Memorial was the first monument and sculpture to be erected at the National Memorial Arboretum. It is a tribute to the 49th Infantry West Riding Division and was dedicated on 7 June 1998. In the Second World War they were stationed in Iceland and because they were snowed in under 20 feet (6.1 m) of snow for most of the campaign, their commanding officer called the men ‘his Polar Bears’ and the polar bear on a block of ice was soon adopted as their mascot and shoulder flash. Made from yellow hardwood, the bear is 9 ft long (2.7 m) and 5 ft high (1.5 m) and weighs 2.5 tonnes; it was created by the Essex Woodcarvers and took six men a year to carve. Inside the bear is a capsule containing the names of the members of the 49th Division who died, together with relevant letters and documents.

RNLI memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.JPG Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI)

The RNLI memorial has been landscaped as a pebble, shingle and sand beach. The dramatic figure of a lifeboat man in his nineteenth-century oilskins and cork life jacket was sculpted by Andrew Fitchett.

Shot at Dawn memorial.JPG Shot at Dawn

During the First World War some 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were shot for desertion or cowardice; the real cause for their offences was often a psychological reaction to the stresses of war which today would be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress syndrome or combat stress reaction. Shot at Dawn is modelled on Private Herbert Burden, of the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, who was shot at Ypres in 1915 aged 17.

SANDS Garden NMA.JPG Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) Garden

The SANDS Garden is for bereaved parents. At the centre of the garden is a sculpture of the SANDS tear drop logo which was created by John Roberts and the Portland Sculpture Trust to encourage people to sit and touch the central carved figure of the baby.

NMA Polish Service Men And Women Memorial.jpg The Polish Service Men and Women Memorial

A dedicated memorial has been erected in recognition of the contribution made by Polish service men and women to the Allied Forces during the Second World War. The centre monument sculptured by Robert Sobocinski was unveiled by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent on 19 September 2009.

Navy Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.JPG Navy Memorial

Unveiled on 15 June 2014 the memorial to navy personnel is made up from a number of large pieces of coloured glass and a lone figure with bowed head.

The Sumatra Railway Memorial - - 1568298.jpg Sumatra Railway Memorial

Unveiled in 2001, the Sumatra Railway Memorial was designed by Jack Plant who was captured by the Japanese and forced to work constructing the railway. The memorial commemorates the 700 Allied PoWs who died building the Sumatra Railway. Several thousand captured Allied troops were forced to work on the 100 miles (160 km) railway.

Christmas truce.jpg Christmas Truce Memorial

On 12 December 2014, a memorial on the centenary of the World War I Christmas truce, when British and German soldiers stopped fighting in the trenches and played football in no man's land, was unveiled by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the England national football team manager Roy Hodgson and Greg Dyke, chairman of the Football Association. The Football Remembers memorial was designed by ten-year-old schoolboy Spencer Turner after a UK-wide competition.

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