Her Majesty The Queen attended the dedication of the Armed Forces Memorial in
2007. The memorial was designed by architect Liam O’Connor. It was built in memory of British service personnel who have have been
killed on duty, on training exercise, or as a result of ‘terrorist action’. The start date for the names on the memorial, 1st January 1948, was chosen
because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded all personnel who died
up to 31st December 1947.
Additionally, the names of those killed in the Palestine conflict are included
because the conflict was operational both before and after this date.
The monument is raised on a mound, reminiscent of ancient barrows, with a path
of pilgrimage winding to the summit between trees. Separate stone steps also
lead to the summit. The handrails by the steps are cast in bronze from ropes on
HMS Victory, the ship on which Lord Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar in
Two semi-circular walls, faced with Portland stone, list the names of more than
16,000 dead, with nearly half the space
left blank for possible future casualties.
Within the curved walls are two sculptures by Ian Rank-Broadley. The first shows
a dead soldier carried aloft by
‘The Stretcher Bearers’. His wife and son lament his death. Rank-Broadley says this was inspired by “The death of Petroclus, whose body was carried back to camp held aloft
on Achilles' shield”.
In the second sculpture, ‘Great Doors of Eternity’, a stone mason carves the names of a dead man, whose body is being prepared for
burial by a female soldier and by a Gurkha (who represent the varied
composition of the British armed forces). This group resembles traditional
depictions of Christ’s depostion from the Cross. On the left of these figures,
a soldier points to a gap in the inner wall to suggest some
kind of afterlife. The sun strikes the gap each year on the eleventh hour of the
eleventh day of the eleventh month,
the time and the date of the annual Armistice Day commemorations. The First World War ended at eleven o’clock on November 11th 1918.
Great bronze wreaths are laid on carved surfaces near the sculptures which, from
a distance, appear as Victoria Crosses.
At the rear of the memorial is a gold-topped obelisk reminiscent of ancient
Egyptian memorials. The Egyptians built obelisks to symbolise the meeting
points of the Earth
and the heavens.