Welcome to WW2 Nation
…where our story is just beginning.
Hello and Welcome to WW2 Nation,
As you may have probably already guessed, both Ross and I are very interested in the Second World War.
We are setting out on a journey of discovery with the aim of exploring this period of history as well as trying to keep it alive to new generations.
In what promises to be a truly fascinating and moving experience, we hope you will join us for every single step of this incredible adventure.
The National Memorial Arboretum
Our first outing involved wrapping up warm (including Ross cracking out the infamous beanie!) to brave the bitterly cold winter weather for a trip to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, near Burton Upon Trent.
Set within 150 acres of woodland and gardens, the place is truly vast. And with over 300 memorials to explore make sure you take your walking boots with you!
One small bit of advice…
Rather than getting throughly lost whilst exploring the acres of land of the National Arboretum like Ross and I managed to quickly do, I would definitely recommend picking up a map on your way into the visitor centre.
Below are just a few photographs from the day as it was impossible to add them all.
The Royal Air Force Memorial
With over 1,000 hand-forged feathers, this magnificent stainless steel eagle standing atop a globe is the memorial dedicated to all those who have served in the RAF and Commonwealth air.
It is estimated that over 167,000 men served in the RAF during the Second World War, which included men from a host of different nationalities such as South Africans, Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians and Poles.
During 1939-45, the RAF lost over 70,000 officers, NCOs and airmen killed or missing during operations, with the largest proportion of these losses falling on Bomber Command.
The Armed Forces Memorial
Opened on the 12th October 2007, the Armed Forces Memorial is a truly stunning sight to behold. It is a really magnificent piece of architecture, every small detail possible has been thought of to try and truly pay homage to those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
For example there is even a thin gap left in both the outer and inner wall of the monument so that a shaft of sunlight will line up and fall perfectly through this space and onto the loral leafed wreath in the centre of the memorial on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It is remarkable how peaceful and quiet it is at the National Arboretum. Even on the day we went there were lots of people exploring the site, but standing atop the Armed Forces Memorial which overlooks the entire Arboretum, the only thing we could hear were the flags flapping in the breeze – a fitting tribute.
It was difficult to stand there and see all those names, hundreds, thousands of names inscribed on the walls all around us of those that had died whilst serving their country since the Second World War. There are apparently over 16,000 names listed on the Armed Forces Memorial and what was even more thought provoking was also seeing the empty spaces set aside waiting to still be filled (as can be seen below).
The Shot at Dawn Memorial
The ‘Shot at Dawn’ memorial was a very moving tribute and testament to the 306 men who were executed during the First World War. Many of whom were given little chance at a true defence and were very quickly sentenced to death.
The statue designed by Andy Decomyn, is apparently modelled on Private Herbert Burden who was just 17 and had lied about his age to enlist. He was shot at Ypres in 1915.
On the 7th November 2006, the British government agreed to give a posthumous pardon to all of those executed for military offences in the First World War.
The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces Memorial
Having known someone who fought and died in the British Paras in Afghanistan, it was really special to see the memorial dedicated to this great regiment.
The Paras – an elite corps of troops – were formed during the Second World War following Churchill’s wishes for a special unit to carry out airborne operations like Hitler’s Fallschirmjägers.
Wearing the infamous maroon beret and nicknamed the ‘red devils’ by the Afrika Corps during the fierce fighting in North Africa, the Paras grew to a size of 17 battalions and went on to fight in Africa, Italy and France during the conflict.
Following many famous operations during the war, the Parachute Regiment went on to serve everywhere from Palestine to Northern Ireland to the Falklands, playing vital roles and winning numerous awards for gallantry.
The Polish Armed Forces War Memorial
Set amongst row upon row of perfectly lined trees, the Polish Armed Forces War Memorial appeared before us as we made our way around the edge of the Arboretum. Illuminated by the Winter’s setting sun, it looked a perfect tribute to all those Polish men and women who gave their lives in World War II.
I would definitely recommend a visit to the Arboretum. It is a truly remarkable place and is a moving tribute and testament to all those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Gone, but never forgotten.
I hope you found this post of interest and will pay the National Memorial Arboretum a visit if you ever get the opportunity.