• Pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum
    Published: Tuesday 11 June 2019 09:25:AM
    Author: Martin Allen
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    St Mary’s pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum was well attended and took place on a fine day on Saturday 18th May, appropriately just a few weeks before the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.  Set in 150 acres of park and woodland, and bordered by the serene River Tame, the Arboretum and its 350 memorials were designed to provide a national focus for Remembrance, not just for the military, but also for all rescue services and many other associated organisations.  The visit started with a short service in the chapel and then we dispersed in all directions either to seek out memorials relevant to our own respective families, or simply to admire the beautifully constructed and tended monuments and statues.  Some took the internal land train to enjoy a 50 minute tour of the site with an audio commentary whilst others followed recommended tour routes described in the official written guide.  Central to the site is the Armed Forces Memorial which is a stunning and captivating piece of architecture listing on Portland stone panels some 16,000 names of those who have been killed on duty since WW2.  Sculptures and statues within the large circular construction bear silent witness to the cost and scale of armed conflict in recent years. Particularly heart-wrenching are the memorials dedicated to the Burma Railway, Polish Forces and “Shot at Dawn”.  (There are no words to describe the distressing feelings evoked by a visit to the latter memorial).  Despite moments of sadness tinged with gratitude to those who had given their lives for us, all in all Alan Newton organised a wonderfully thought-provoking and informative day in the company of good church friends.  Individual return journeys are already being planned to visit the numerous monuments still to be seen.