A flying visit to the UK saw me passing fairly close to a place I’d long wanted to visit, so I stopped in on a cold, rainy, windy Tuesday afternoon. The leaden sky was apt.
The site is well signposted, well before arriving in Alrewas I’d seen the brown panel telling me I was close.
150 acres of woodland and open areas, the arboretum is a beautiful place, each unit and regiment of the British armed forces having an area for itself, all based round the central monument.
The Armed Forces Memorial, a walled area containing the names of every single British and Commonwealth soldier that has given their life whilst serving since the end of WW2.
They are just symbols, chiselled into the stone walls, but each stroke of the stone mason’s tool signifies a loss to a family. Someone’s father, son, brother, wife, sister.
As I walked slowly along each wall, names of friends leapt out at me. Jimmy, my old boss and the finest one I ever served under, Hoppy, loved by everyone and Mark, another one who left us far too early. Far too many of my friends names stared down at me, seeming to jump out of the wall, attracting my attention.
Alone, with my collar pulled up around my neck to protect from the icy wind, it was difficult to stop the tears from flowing whilst smiling at the same time. Memories of times gone by mixed with the emotion of knowing I’ll never see them again.
The arboretum is truly a wonderful place, I found the tone absolutely perfect. Peaceful, respectful without glorification and would urge anyone in the area to pass a few hours here .