Hello, and many thanks for continuing your read on this subject which started on this page HMS GANGES' MEMORIAL AT THE NATIONAL ARBORETUM.html

Yesterday the 27th November 2009, on a glorious day with blue skies but bitterly cold wind, I journeyed from Suffolk to Stafford to visit the Arboretum with the specific intention of photographing and filming the HMS Ganges Memorial. It was my second visit, the first being in 2002 and much has changed during that seven year period. Whatever I may say on this page, does not detract, in any way, from the experience of humility one feels during this visit, and one cannot help being touched and even overawed by being in the presence of so many Memorials commemorating British events and occasions from as long ago as World War One. The new centre piece, The Armed Forces Memorial opened by Her Majesty in 2007, records and reveres the names of no less than 17,000 men and women who have died on duty since the end of World War Two. The amble through this stunningly beautiful Memorial [some might say shrine] is humbling in the extreme, and polarises ones thoughts towards the almost continuous state of war or conflict [or preparation for] our country has been and continues to be subjected to. The sadness is heightened when one observes that the 2009 list of our dead is not yet added, and turning away from the row upon row of tablets bearing the names of those who have perished, are yet more row upon row of blank tablets, awaiting the names of those yet to die in the years ahead. Being there affected me greatly and it is truly difficult to hide ones emotions.    I had two other emotions both of which, at some earlier point in my life had affected me and these were manifest in a disappointment and in a surprise.  Back in 1958-59 I had a friend called Donald Lister and we served in Malta together. Donald's Number was 939405 whilst mine was 930735.  Shortly after leaving Malta for a UK position, Donald was accidentally killed whilst returning to his ship, and thus returning to 'duty'. His name is not on the Memorial though it is on this website Royal Navy casualties, killed and died, 1960-62 [when on the site, choose 'EDIT' and then 'FIND ON THIS PAGE'.  ADD "LISTER" into the find box and it will automatically find the event for you which was Sunday 27th March 1960 when serving in HMS CAUTON]. I have to admit that I do wonder why!  The surprise was to find Lord Mountbatten's name.  He was murdered by the IRA in 1979 when an old man of 79. So many people, old and young, male and female were murdered by this vile organisation and would not in normal circumstances, have their names on such a Memorial.  That Lord Mountbatten does is because he was an Admiral of the Fleet, and as such, NEVER retired, but remained on the Active List until death. Because his assailants were [and continue to be] an enemy of the UK, he died ON DUTY.  Really, I shouldn't have been surprised, and very soon realised why his name is there.

The Arboretum is a huge area, approximately 195 acres in size [the average football pitch is 1.8 acres] and to see all the man-made memorials alone would take one three days to do them justice.  To see the thousands of trees planted in the name of this or that organisation, would take weeks. It is a beautiful place and I would recommend it to all.

Before I continue to mention the HMS Ganges Memorial, I have a couple of observations to share with you. I was quite taken aback to learn that in some cases [even for relatively well known organisations] one of the NMA volunteers, a secular person but a church goer, acts to take the Commemoration Service at a Memorial dedication. He hinted that many [because they themselves are not church goers] prefer the leader of such a Service to be dressed in a lounge suite rather than in a clerics robe!  I would take issue with that but this is not the place.  As I understand it, there is a cleric available on-call in that part of Staffordshire, but he/she is sometimes unavailable. Fortunately the main organisations bring their own cleric with them. Secondly, it is very evident [and confirmed by a Memorial volunteer] that the NMA is dictated to by the Ministry of Defence [MOD] on all matters.  Whilst in the church, my eyes were drawn to the altar upon which was a large wreath of poppies stood upright, and resting on it was a card with photographs and text saying that this was laid [at the Arboretum] by Harry Patch the last of our World War One combatants. I mentioned my current campaign to have Claude Choules recognised as such now after the death of Harry [see WW1 SURVIVORS - WHO COUNTS AND WHO DOESN'T] and the volunteer told me that if MOD believes this to be the case, then they must follow the MOD's lead [or orders]. That being on an altar more or less confirms even unto God that Claude is persona non grata as far as the UK is concerned. And finally in what I hope are fair and rational observations, I will mention the map of the NMA which is on sale at the reception desk for £2.50. It is euphemistically called "Finding your way around" and I think it would be better were they to add "if you are in an aeroplane" or, "when first constructed" taking no account of the many trees which have grown and are more prominent than the items shown on the map, indeed, totally masking them from view.

The following picture shows you virtually ninety percent of the Arboretum, and what is missing, the other ten percent, whilst important of course for it too has Memorials, is not necessary here, to tell the story.

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What the numbers in the red circles represent is of no interest here, nor, by and large when you are there at the site proper, for it is out of date and moreover, on such a map there is no way you can be directed to the thousands of individual Memorials, in many different forms, which are represented at the NMA. Each organisation represented should, I feel, produce a map of where THEIR Memorial is situated and that could or should be downloaded from the parent Association website before travelling to the NMA, arriving armed with a relevant map.  I will attempt to do that here for the viewing of the HMS Ganges Memorial. From the map shown above, I have reduced the area covered so that I can concentrate upon the naval section wherein the Ganges Memorial is situated.

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 The new picture above can safely be taken as being the main vista, the immediate panorama you will see when leaving the main building or for that matter, the church. The most prominent Memorial is the Armed Forces Memorial on the raised area in the mid-distance in front of you.  There is a little train which will take you there as part of a journey it takes around some of the Memorials.  Cost, £2 each for the round trip. I will now further reduce the picture but this time I will animate it to start the route to the Naval field: naval in this case meaning mercantile as well as royal.  There is however an area called "Navy Wood" which is totally divorced from the area under consideration, separated by a good long walk away.

The area you are most directly concerned with is bordered by the roads Millennium Avenue/Yeomanry Avenue/Wrens Path [the latter of course leading to the WRNS Memorial] which is a huge grassed area with many trees and a relatively [for the size of the plot] few man-made Memorials.

In this animation I show you to the grassed area which is called the naval section, although with the reservations already stated.  It appears on the map that you are heading for a lake, a stretch of water, and well you might be, but you cannot and don't see it, so it is misleading for our navigation purposes.  In fact what you do see, and it is the predominant feature,  is a mini forest of closely packed trees now nearing a height of ten to twelve feet high, and each of these trees [there are a few thousand of them I believe] represents a merchant ship sunk in World War Two.  Thus, by far your 'guiding light' as it were, is the mercantile marine Memorials [several different types] chief of which is the forest. The forest is in fact in front of the lake and therefore you can now see why the map is misleading and the perspective distorted utterly. In the next animation, I am going to add that mini forest plus one or two other things which will guide you.

The letters in the white hexagon shapes viz H, E, D, G, A, B, C, F, are respectively

Playground; Far East POW Building; Car Park; Charity Shop & Coffee Garden; Visitor Centre; Chapel; Toilets and Armed Forces Memorial.

Next comes a small photo album [of some of the photographs] of our day out taken by my dear wife Beryl.  This will be followed by a couple of very short cameo movies intended only to give the geography of the Memorial bearing in mind that it cannot be found anywhere else in the public domain.  Enjoy

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* TOC-H. All of these photographs have an immediate impact and familiar story except for possibly one, and that is TOC-H ? So, please click on the thumbnail below to read a short script which I know you will find of great interest.  It is reproduced by the kind permission of Terry Hall of the Derbyshire Submariners Association and taken from his [he is the editor and publisher] excellent monthly on-line newsletter "Deeps of Derbyshire". 

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Use your refresh button to kick-start any movie which appears to have stopped.

The  H.M.S. GANGES Memorial in its quiet and dignified setting.

A view of the immediate vicinity of the Ganges Memorial with the park bench seat just before it [to its left as one approaches] is dedicated to Captain Dunlop.  Also a good view of the trees in the merchant navy section, each one representing a WW2 ship loss. As the movie starts, in the distance, far left.  you will see a flag flying.  This is the Red Ensign indicating the Mercantile Marine Memorials.

The name plate on the park bench next to the Ganges Memorial.  It might have been better had it mentioned that he was the very last captain of HMS Ganges.

The Captain and his Boys' side by side, with the merchant navy trees behind offering protection from North Westerly weather.

Good bye and God Bless you all.  I have but one final observation and that is the visual reading affect the Ganges Memorial had upon me. I find it difficult to read now and I am almost sure that the icons of our various countries, the rose, the shamrock, the thistle and the daffodil will, within but a few years hence,  fade into obscurity leaving just the words on the central stone visible, but they themselves, for how long? 

Finally, I have made you a PDF which lists all the Memorials shown in the literature sold at the Reception Desk of the Arboretum, the maps for £2-50 and the guide books for £5 as at the 28th November 2009.  There are many missing from the list. Remember to use the Adobe Zoom Tool and Scroll Bars for a clear read of the data herein.   NMA LISTED MEMORIALS.pdf