Basra Memorial Wall Rededicated
The Basra Memorial Wall was rededicated in a poignant service at its new home in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on Thursday, 11 March 2010.
The Basra Memorial Wall was originally built outside the headquarters of Multi-National Division (South East) in Basra in 2006 by members of 37 Armoured Engineer Squadron, Royal Engineers, but was brought back to the UK in 2009. It is a monument to all UK forces and coalition personnel who lost their lives during Operation Telic, the name given to the UK operations in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 – each of the 179 names (178 military personnel and one MoD civilian) appear on individual commemorative brass plaques hung on the memorial.
The wall also contains a central memorial plaque that was blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the national service of commemoration for Iraq at St. Paul’s Cathedral in October 2009, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and 1,800 recipients of the Iraq Medal. The memorial was brought back to the UK in 2009.
The rededication ceremony was attended by almost 500 family members of those killed during Operation Telic. They were joined by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Defence Secretary and Defence Ministers and Chiefs, together with families from Denmark, Italy, Romania, and the Netherlands, representing some of the coalition personnel from nations also honoured on the wall.
During the service, which opened with a flypast of Tornado GR4s, wreaths were laid on behalf of the nation, the armed forces and one by Brian Tanswell, whose son Lieutenant Tom Tanswell was killed in 2006, on behalf of the families. A message of thanks from the people of Iraq was also read out. The wreath laid by Mr Tanswell was originally laid at the wall while it was in Basra on behalf of Mrs Angela Bateson in memory of her husband Major Nick Bateson, Royal Corps of Signals, who died in a road traffic accident in Basra on 1 May 2007.
Speaking after the service, Brian Tanswell, said: “I spearheaded the campaign to bring the Basra Memorial Wall to the UK, and through that contacted many families who, like myself, lost someone who meant everything to them in Iraq. I feel honoured to lay the wreath on their behalf, and take comfort from knowing this memorial is here for us, in its rightful place in the UK, an everlasting tribute to our loved ones, where families, friends and comrades can come and remember them.”
Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup laid a wreath on behalf of the Armed Forces. He said: “This memorial was built in Iraq by Service personnel in memory of their fallen comrades. It now stands before us, here in the UK, as a focal point for family, friends, the Armed Forces and the nation as a whole. It represents the commitment, bravery and sacrifice of our servicemen and women; it is a symbol of what they gave, and of the debt that this country owes them and their families.”