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Unsung heroes to be remembered at National Memorial Arboretum

An ambitious project to commemorate hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes who served in World War Two has begun at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.

The Combined Operations Forces memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum

The Combined Operations Forces memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum

Lichfield firm Beautiful Gardens have completed phase one of the striking memorial to the Combined Operations Forces thanks to generous donations from veterans and their families from around the globe.

Combined Operations was set up by Churchill post-Dunkirk to think, plan and train for offensive operations. It was the first time personnel from the three services worked closely together under a single command. Many thousands died while serving in the Combined Operations Command or in support of its raids and landings which culminated in the D-day invasion on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The memorial’s ‘spearhead’ design is symbolic of the land, sea and air forces coming together in the archetypal attack formation adapted during raids and landings.

Simon Roberts, managing director of Fradley-based Beautiful Gardens, said: “It’s been a huge privilege to work on this memorial commemorating the Combined Operations forces.

“It is satisfying to know that the memorial will be here for a very long time and is such a symbolic reminder of the servicemen that fought and died in the war.”

Beautiful Gardens were commissioned to carry out the work following an eight-year fundraising campaign lead by Scottish WW2 enthusiast Geoff Slee.

“Combined Operations is one of the best kept secrets of World War Two,” said Mr Slee, a retired Manpower Services manager from Edinburgh.

“Considering the enormity of its contribution to the war effort there was, and still is, little public awareness of this amazing and ubiquitous organisation.

“My interest was captured when, in the mid 1990s, my late father-in-law began to talk about the amazing events he was involved in while working under the Combined Operations Command.

“At the time there was no information about Combined Operations on the Internet so I began writing a few website pages and it took off from there. The interest from around the world has been phenomenal since then with support from veterans their families, students and researchers.”

So far the appeal has raised over £10,000 but Mr Slee estimates the same amount needs to be raised again to complete the memorial and pay for a dedication ceremony and ongoing maintenance.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.


1 Comment

  1. Mike Colton

    5th May, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Dear Lichfield Live,

    We welcome our new neighbour and splendid memorial beside the River Tame.


    Mike Colton
    Allied Special Forces Memorial Grove