At this time of special Remembrance and `Poppy Appeal’ on behalf of our courageous Armed Service men and women I was a privileged invited guest of Lichfield DC to the National Memorial Arboretum(Croxhall Road, Airewas, Staffs DE13 7AR).
I saw the Armed Services monument that has a series of stone tablets containing all members of all those who died whilst in uniform whether in combat or all causes of death and it represented as the most singular human experience to witness the engraved names from 1945 to present day. I also attended the very moving pre-recorded act of Remembrance that is performed in the Arboretum Chapel daily at 11 a.m.
As part of our `Pride of Lichfield ‘ tour we also visited the replica WW1 `Coltman Trench’ at the Staffordshire Regimental Museum. If you want to book a `Pride of Lichfield’ tour contact: Visit Lichfield (Tel.No.01543-412112)
The `Coltman Trench’ is named in honour of L/Corporal William Harold Coltman VC,DCM and Bar, MM and Bar (1891-1974) who today is the most decorated NCO in British Military history. He served as a soldier did but not even fire a single shot in battle in WW1, as he performed conspicuous humane acts of courage in life-saving rescue work, taking many comrades to safety from `No Man`s Land’, as a medical orderly `stretcher bearer’.
I would encourage our local schools to include the National Memorial Arboretum and Staffordshire Regimental Museum as worthy on their organised group visit programmes as we approach the centennial of WW1 in 2014.
Patrick Smith (Royal British Legion – Walthamstow)