The Naval Service Memorial
The Royal Naval Association has been running a project to mark the 60th anniversary of our Royal Charter in 2014. We had been inspired by an ARNO idea for a memorial and loved the blue glass design that had been considered by their Council. RNA National Council wanted an all inclusive memorial that commemorates those who have served, serve today and will serve tomorrow regardless of rank, trade or fighting arm. We sought designs for a memorial to be placed in the Naval Section of the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) to be a place for shipmates and their families of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, their Reserves, RFA, QARNNS, WRNS and RNXS to quietly remember their comrades and loved ones.
At present there is the Armed Forces memorial for those who have given their lives on operations since WW2 and a collection of Association and Fighting Arm memorials in the Naval area. Unless your loved one served in one of the ship classes or one of the fighting arms with a memorial, there is no place in the Arboretum for you to fee ‘at home’.
We received 22 designs from RNA individuals and Branches as well as some professional design artists, with a special invitation to the ARNO artist, Graeme Mitcheson. A committee of taste appointed by the National Council whittled the designs down to two:
• An idea based on ‘At the going down of the sun we will remember them’ – with elements of 3 designs submitted. To be developed by Graeme Mitcheson.
• A submission by Ian Rank-Broadley who designed the two wonderful sculptures on the Armed Forces Memorial at the NMA.
The two designs were presented to the National Council in June at our National Conference, in Liverpool, for a decision. .
Ian Rank-Broadley designed a bronze wall with a theme of the size and dangers of the sea with 4 men on a raft, survivors of their sinking ship. Graeme Mitcheson produced a highly innovative design using glass panels. The National Council unanimously chose Graeme’s design.
The idea is this: ‘At the going down of the Sun we will remember them’.
The memorial shows a figure facing West into the setting sun, head bowed in respect to Shipmates. The figure suggests this could be a sailor from the bell bottoms and round cap held in the ‘at ease’ position, but is deliberately ambiguous.
Coloured glass panels diffuse light onto a white limestone pavement. The colours are those of the 5 oceans – Steel grey for the Atlantic; turquoise for the Indian; ultramarine blue for the Pacific; and with white inserts for the Arctic and Southern Ocean. Yellow for the rising sun - red is there for the setting sun and for the blood spilled at sea and on the land in the defence of our nation. Suggestions of green for the Royal Marines and dark colours for dived submarines. The glass panels suggest waves and motion – from the side, masts in harbour. The panels vary in size to suggest the tide coming in and out. The glass panels cast a shadow suggesting the shape of a warship which is in the direct gaze of the figure. The shape of the shadow ship changes as the sun moves.
From right angles the glass panels suggest medal ribbons, the colours of the Atlantic and Arctic Stars are present.
The figure is made from battleship grey Kilkenny limestone, which turns black when wet, drying in patches showing the way water is integral to the figure. There will be an information board that tells the story of the memorial and highlights the role of the principal funders.
The National Council are delighted that the First Sea Lord has approved that the memorial can be called ‘The Naval Service Memorial’. Making the memorial, in effect, a gift to the Naval Service from the RNA, RNRMC and other contributors individual and collective.
The memorial will be dedicated at the NMA at 1200 on Sunday 15 June 2014.
We hope to have a VVIP, the First Sea Lord and other senior Naval figures in attendance, the Chaplain of the Fleet will take the Service. The RNA will be encouraged to parade their standards and all other Naval Associations are invited to attend, letting RNA HQ know.
Finally, although the RNA National Council have allocated £50,000 and we hope for a grant from the RNRMC, it is not likely to be enough, so if you are inspired by this wonderful design you are encouraged to send donations to me for the Naval Service Memorial – cheques made payable to the RNA.
Paul Quinn OBE
HM Naval Base
Hampshire PO1 3LT