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The Naval Service Memorial

The Royal Naval Association has been running a project to mark the 60th anniversary of our Royal Charter in 2014. The 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 feel ‘at home’.


The video on the left (Screen Printing 1)shows the printing on 20 March of panel 7 of the memorial, a plain blue curved panel.  6 panels have been printed with 7 to go next week.

You can view more images of the Memorial build in the Gallery pages


The Naval Service Memorial and Conference – June Update

Preparations have been going ahead at a great pace over the last month with the groundworks at the memorial site moving ahead quickly. The second pour of concrete over the full width of the pavement went ahead satisfactorily after the early rather wet stage. You can see from the first picture that the concrete has now enveloped the boots that will hold the glass, leaving space for the final granite paving slabs.

On the subject of the glass panels; we have had a set back with 5 of the panels not passing the lamination stage. This is not unusual in architectural glass and we made a provision for time to re-cut, print and toughen the replacement panels. The installation should now be on 3-4 June, once the panels are back. The lamination will now be done in house at Proto Studios, which will give us the control we need. Nothing to worry about, but thought you might like to know the ‘inside story.

The groundworks for the info panel at the side of the memorial are complete and Chrissie Hughes has been working on the heritage web-page for the QR code that will be inscribed into the panel. This web page will have details of all donors and in memoriam donations – as well as info about the RNA and the RNRMC.

There has been lots of activity on the planning of the main event, with the Royal Protection Officer, equerry to HRH, Flags for 1SL, Staff Police and the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire putting the GS’s plan through a fine check. All is well and the Plan of the Day is now firmed up and will be sent out widely. The Order of Service has been approved and is with the Printers.

 There has been quite a lot about the Flypast with aircraft from 829NAS, 702NAS and the historic flight. The mixture of fixed and rotary wing providing its usual challenges. Ground comms issues resolved not by a UHF landrover, but a swap of mobile numbers!!!

The HMS FORWARD 24-man guard is hard at training for the event and the RNR Queen’s Colour will be paraded. It was very useful to have a ground recce with the HMS FORWARD team, and to precisely position the Colour.

There has also been the challenges of ‘Troops to Task’ and co-ordinating the volunteers from RNA branches, 8 Area, HMS SHERWOOD and SCC Warsash to produce a stewarding plan that will ensure that all have a great day and know where to go, when etc. More important keep the right areas reserved so the Band Guard and RNA have somewhere to march into!!

The final work on the statue of the sailor is now complete with Graeme spending nearly 3 weeks getting the final finish just right. He now has the figure trussed up and hanging from his gantry ready to load on the lorry to the Arboretum. He has also passed me a photo of the figure when wet – which is just spectacular – I hope you agree.

With groundworks nearly there and the figure ready for transport we now await the glass – which will take about a day and a half to install. We will then do an unveiling trial while the glass is not covered to ensure all goes smoothly when HRH cuts the ribbon.

We will have a lot of media interest with BBC TV coming and looking for interviewees – give GS a shout if you are happy to be interviewed. BFBS, the Times and Telegraph will also be in attendance. We hope to have good coverage on the teatime news report.

So, nearly there, fingers crossed that the glass panels come back from toughening in one piece – and that the sun shines on 15 June. I hope you have enjoyed these updates of progress and has helped give you an idea about what goes on behind the scenes.


The Naval Service Memorial- Update 18th April 2014

Work has been at full speed this month on the construction of the memorial and the planning of the main events surrounding the dedication. As you can see the carving on the memorial figure is nearly there, with surface texturing taking about another 2 and a half weeks. The figure is absolutely stunning, with a quiet elegance. The carving of the back of the figure and the ‘at ease’ cap position is particularly good.

The main glass panels have finished at the printing stage and have been taken up to Peterlee and have been through the first stage, where the enamel fuses with the glass and becomes translucent. They have also been through the toughening process (16 weeks at Ganges) and they have been heat soak tested – and proved sound. The next step is lamination where the printed and coloured 15mm panel meets its 19mm mirror image and the laminating gel is put between – then back into the furnace for the gel to melt and fuse the glass together. David Proto who owns and manages the Glass Company is very very pleased with the way the panels have turned out.

The Ground works have now started and the DEMS memorial now moved back next to the Merchant Navy Memorial and looks stunning, much better placed – and the Bofurs 40/60 now points into the Naval Area in a more pleasing manner. Big thanks to the DEMS Association for allowing the move.

The ground works have now started with the excavation of the deeper foundations under the glass done last week. The National Pres was very impressed by this muddy hole, which shows the length but not the width of the final pavement.

The first pour of concrete for the foundations has been made. The very exacting job of precisely placing the template for the brackets for the glass panels was done this week.

The next step is the second pour of concrete which will cover the side fins that you can see. The foundations of the rest of the pavement area are done at the same time giving the full pavement size. The granite paving slabs then go in top leaving a small up-stand for the glass. The glass panels are then slotted into place and secured with a two part epoxy mix and sealed. Graeme will use a mock up of the figure to get the position just right, and then move the carved figure into position. He will have to drill a hole for a stainless steel rod that will keep the figure into position, also a thin layer of grout.

The information panel meanwhile is being made at Proto Glass. We have agreed the QR code that will be etched onto the panel which will lead those with smart phones to a web page about the RNA and our donors. The panel will be blue, have the white Ensign and be sand-blast etched with an explanation of the memorial, who it is for and the design by Graeme.

Meanwhile planning for the event is at full tilt. We have confirmed a 24 man guard from HMS FORWARD, and I am delighted to announce that the Reserves Colour will be paraded. We have now had confirmation from all the main VVIPS of attendance and we now know that Princess Michael will accompany her husband to the event. The Minister of State for the Armed Forces, the Rt Hon Mark Francois MP will attend as well as the First Sea Lord, the Second Sea Lord. 15 Commanding Officers of HMS Ships, submarines, air squadrons, commandos and reserve units have been invited.

The BBC will be covering the event and may (or may not) be providing a live feed. We hope that the Warsash Sea Cadet unit will help with route marking and orders of service. RNA Market Harborough branch have volunteered to help and they will form the bulk of the VIP welcoming party under the gentle command of Michelle Bainbridge. We will have 200 guests at the Royal Reception, with Area officials, guests and invitees making a large proportion of those attending in addition to the Royal Navy and Naval Associations guests. The evening RNA wide do is looking good and the dozens of bottles of Pusser’s Rum for the tot have arrived. Sales of the Raffle tickets are brisk too. A big thank you to all those donating to the memorial and selling raffle tickets – it is important that we keep momentum.

Finally I am looking for people to be interviewed by the BBC for whom the memorial is particularly important – please contact GS if you know of someone who is willing.

The Naval Service Memorial and Conference - Update April 2014

The Naval Service Memorial and Conference - Update Work on the Naval Service memorial has been going at a great pace over the last month. The figure is now well advanced as you can see from the picture opposite and a life model who called in to see how the sculpture is coming on. Graeme Mitcheson, the sculptor and designer has also been working with Proto Glass on the glass colours and shade. This required run of a sunny days to get the main colours and the shadow colours right; using the samples made up by Proto Glass. The picture below shows the set up outside Graeme’s workshop. Interesting to see that the shadow colour can be quite different to the main colour (you will have to go to the website to see the effect), with some blues showing green – which I tell Graeme is fine since I remember extensive periods in the Atlantic when the ocean and I were green!! Since Graeme approved the colours for each panel the team at Proto Glass in Pewsey have been busy printing the 15mm panels with the right colours. This is done on massive screen printing machines, operated by real experts, the machine that is doing our panels is on the right and David Proto supervising the removal of one of the glass panels on the left. At this stage the panels are opaque and the coloured enamels easily rubbed off. The next step is for the panels to be sent up to Peterlee to be cured in an oven at 650 degrees for several hours, when the colour becomes part of the glass. We have also now finalised the details of the info panel that will explain to visitors at the National Memorial Arboretum what the memorial is for – and the ideas behind its design. There is a very short video of the screen printing process on our NSM web page. 

The BBC has interviewed Graeme in the early stages of the carving and we hope that the BBC Defence Correspondent, Caroline Wyatt will interview him and our National President on her return from Afghanistan. 

I was mightily relieved to hear that the DEMS memorial has been moved on schedule to make room for the NSM and that therefore our ground contractor can make a start this week on the first pour of concrete. Once that has set the sleeves that hold the glass are bolted into position and a second pour of concrete to fix them into position. The granite pavement is then laid on top of the second pour. 

The main work at the HQ has been the sending out of 200 invitations to VVIPs, VIPs and the main RNA Area guests. GS has been in communication with the Lord Lieutenant and Kensington Palace with the detailed plan of the day, and all seems set fair. We were delighted to hear that the First Sea Lord has now confirmed attendance at BOTH conference and NSM dedication (as well as the Gala Dinner). 

Not surprisingly changing programmes of some Fleet units mean that some Commanding Officers cannot come, but are trying to get other units to the event. The RN guard will be Reserves and we will have a regular platoon from HMS COLLINGWOOD and HMS SULTAN courtesy of our mentoring programme. 

We have agreed the design and commissioned, on NC instructions, a pennant for those Areas and Standards who parade on 15 June to wear on their standards in perpetuity. The design will reflect the bright colours of the glass sails on the memorial – and will be presented on the day. We hope that this will help to encourage branches to parade on the day. 

A reminder that there will be an electric buggy service from the visitors centre to the memorial during the dedication day; and that if you need to have a chair for the service you MUST let us know. There are only a limited number of chairs that will be available so please book up with Nigel or Andy. There will be plenty of room for shipmates own scooters etc. 

Coaches will run from the hotels from 0900 to about 1015 to get everyone up in time; and from after the event for those wanting to get back to the hotel. There are coaches arranged for the evening do from the Coventry Britannia to the Royal Court. Any branch coming up for the day and wanting to come for the evening do, MUST book directly with the Royal Court and pay £12.50 per person. 

Hopefully by next month the glass will have been cooked and laminated, the groundworks well advanced and the figure nearly complete. The rum is already here for the Sunday evening tot, so the biggest event in recent RNA history is really taking off – make sure you are there to join in the fun. It will help to know if you are coming, so please let us know by phone or e-mail.

News Update March 2014

As you will expect work on the Naval Service Memorial (and Conference) has been at a high pace over the last four weeks.
The expected technical visit went ahead at the Arboretum, with all the main players represented including the Drum Major from the Royal Marine Band, Mick Kieran our Ceremonial Advisor, our sound engineer and the Arboretum events team. We were able to pace out and agree the Parade route, refine timings for the day and agree the main ceremony layout – lines of approach for Band, Guard and the RNA. The Arboretum has agreed the main support measures such as First Aid cover, golf buggy shuttle from the visitors centre to the memorial etc. Some key emerging facts for the general RNA are these:

• There will be a standard bearers’ rehearsal at 1030 on the day of the event, so SB will need to be on the early coaches.
• All RNA shipmates who intends to march will need to be at the Armed forces Memorial opposite the visitors centre at 1120 latest in RNA rig.
• Wet weather routine is to wear RNA foul weather jackets.
• We would appreciate some volunteers to supplement the Area 8 team on the day with various duties such as directing people to the site of the memorial, looking after people when they get there and shepherding VIPS to their seats. Give us a shout if you would like to help.

Graeme Mitcheson has now started to carve the Kilkenny limestone at his studio – with the first phase outside with a 7 angle grinder, eventually to go inside when the chisel is the tool of choice! He is making quick progress. We hope to have a BBC TV film crew to capture what he is doing, prior to an interview in early April with him and the National President.

The GS and National Chair have been with Graeme to Proto Glass in Pewsey, to check and approve the tints for the glass panels. The picture shows Chris checking with David Proto on the Ultramarine Blue tints on the 15mm low iron glass that has been chosen.
The large glass panels have arrived at Proto and are beautiful. I tried to take a photo for you, but the glass is so clear that none of the pictures work very well, see below.
We have also been in contact with HRH’s office and the Lord Lieutenant, and have agreed the main points of protocol. We have also checked with HRH the wording of the information panel, which is now in the design phase with Graeme.

If you are mobility impaired and will want a seat at the Memorial Service please let us know as soon as possible so we can reserve a seat for you. As a rough guide a Blue badge will qualify. There will only be a limited amount of seating for VVIPs/VIPs and mobility impaired – since they cost £3 each on the day!!

News Update February 2014

Work on the NSM has been hurrying along apace over the last few weeks. The main news has been the £50,000 donation from the Gosling Foundation, which is wonderful. We have set up donations page for the NSM on our website and will be using on-line advertising to inform people of it.

The design has changed slightly with some spume lines added to the steel grey Atlantic panels and the cap held by the figure has been moved to a more natural ‘at ease’ position. Also some changes to panels 1 and 13 to improve the ‘shadow ship’.

The Kilkenny limestone has now arrived at Graeme Mitcheson’s studio at Ashby de la  Zouche, and he will start to carve it shortly. If anyone would like to see this please give me a ring and I will see if it can be arranged. We hope the BBC TV will be filming the carving at some point.

We have had some difficulty with the stone for the pavement. Limestone is too soft for the ground conditions and white quartz comes in tiny panels, so would have too many joints. We have chosen the lightest flecked granite we can find, which will be installed in 30mm slabs.

The glass panels are on order and should arrive at Proto Glass by the first week of February. We should be able to approve the tints during the second week of Feb and then Proto will go into manufacture, hopefully filmed too.

The structural engineers have now produced the final plans for the foundations, which all look OK.

Planning for the dedication event is going ahead firmly and we met the NMA Events team yesterday. Plans are well advanced to move the DEMS memorial by mid March to give us time to get the NSM foundations done in time. We have also met with the Lord Lieutenant’s representative. The Order of Service is almost there and the formal guest list too. I am delighted to say that we have 15 Commanding Officers coming of HM ships, submarines, mine vessels, naval air squadrons, Royal Marine Commandos and the Commodore RFA. Both First and Second Sea Lords will be coming and we hope to have the Minister for the Armed forces too (programme allowing) – he like 1SL and 2SL are RNA members!!

We have a technical visit planned for early Feb with the Royal Marine Band, our sound engineer and the National Events coordinator.

So full steam ahead at present with GS getting to know the A34/M40/M42 better than he’d like!!!

Behind the Scenes Update

This is a behind-the-scenes update on how the Naval Service Memorial is going. Over the last few weeks the main focus has been on finalising the manufacture of the memorial, with the main elements being foundations, pavement, sculpture and the glass panels. We had been struggling a bit with finding someone to do the glass panels, but a recommendation from a lead supplier of architectural glass led the General Secretary, the National Chair and our artist, Graeme Mitcheson, to Proto Glass a couple of weeks ago. Proto Glass will obtain the panels cut to size and screen print them at their premises – then they are heated in a furnace to 650 degrees so that the printing melts into the glass and becomes part of it (stopping fading) – then a mirror piece of glass is placed on top with a sandwich filling of something that looks like grey chewing gum. This melts into a gel and brings the two pieces of glass into one laminated panel. It is then heat-soaked for 6 hours at 250 degrees to ensure that there are no inclusions (small crystals that can cause the panels to shatter). The panel is then edged, polished and finished ready for installation. The issues of the day are getting the structural engineer calculations for how thick the glass must be – and getting some sample colour panels run off so that Graeme, Nat Chair and GS are happy with the tints.

Meanwhile Graeme is investigating the stone to be used on the pavement; the Arboretum has said that white limestone is too soft for the high water table, so we are looking at a range of light granites, so that the shadow ship can be seen clearly. We have ordered the Kilkenny limestone for the figure, and Graeme will start carving after Christmas (about 8 weeks work).

We are now into the planning for the dedication event, parade and a small VIP reception afterward for our main guests. At present we plan to march standards and the RNA from the Armed Forces Memorial hill to the site of the Naval Service Memorial. We have a Royal Marine Band to keep us all in step; will have RN regulars from SULTAN and COLLINGWOOD. The Chaplain of the Fleet is working on the dedication ceremony for us.
So for planning purposes you should aim to be at the Arboretum no later than 1115 to give time to get from the cark park to the muster point for 1130 or so. For those attending Conference in any of the Britannia Hotels, we will be providing coaches to the Arboretum (and back!), those branches bringing their own transport are asked to make their own way to the Arboretum. We will run a service that will give time either before or after to look around the Arboretum (or both!). At present we hope to run the evening meal at the Royal Court with a tot and cake to celebrate the dedication of the memorial and 60 years of our Royal Charter. More details early next year and Questions to the General Secretary – are very welcome if they assist your planning for the day. Keep the donations coming in – many thanks to those generous branches that are supporting this project.

First Steps

RNRMC Donation to The Naval Service Memorial

Support the Memorial



First Steps


We received 22 designs from RNA individuals and Branches as well as some professional design artists. 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 Liverpool for a decision. It had been hoped to take Conference Delegate views first, but the submission timetable for the NMA meant that the decision could not wait until the September National Council meeting.
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’.
Memorial shows a figure facing to 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 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 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 and highlights the role of the RNA in its funding and design.

The National Council are delighted that the First Sea Lord has approved that the memorial can be called ‘The Naval Service Memorial’, reflecting the broad base of membership of the RNA and not excluding those who have not been members, but who deserve to be remembered.
The memorial will be dedicated at the Arboretium as part of Conference 2014 on Sunday 15 June 2014. 8 Area are arranging coaches to take us from the hotel to the NMA.
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. Areas and Branches will be encouraged to parade their standards.
Any comments, questions please contact the General Secretary.
Finally, although the National Council have allocated funds, they are not likely to be enough, so if you are inspired by this wonderful design; Branches, Areas and individuals are encouraged to send donations for the Naval Service Memorial – cheques made payable to the RNA as usual but noted for the memorial.


RNRMC Donation


The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is proud to announce its support of the The Naval Service Memorial; the first all-inclusive memorial to commemorate those who have served, serve today and will serve tomorrow regardless of rank, trade or fighting arm.

The Charity’s £20,000 gift will contribute to the construction of the memorial, which will be placed in the Naval Section of the National Memorial Arboretum. Chief Executive Robert Robson says: “Graeme Mitcheson’s highly innovative design – using glass panels, sculpture and the sun’s natural rays – is a timeless piece.


Robert continues: “The memorial pays tribute to all of our Navy personnel, irrespective of their rank or division, in the most touching and sensitive of ways. It will offer visitors a visually immersive space from which to quietly remember their comrades and loved ones. It is truly powerful – and this is why the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is proud to offer its support.”

To date, funding for the Memorial has been sourced from a number of supporters including the Royal Naval Association National Council and other contributors both individual and collective, yet further funds are still needed.

The Memorial will be dedicated at the National Memorial Arboretum on 15 June 2014 (be there!!).


Support the Memorial

Donations can be made online by visiting this page: 

Alternatively, please contact Paul Quinn on [email protected] or 02392722983.