SERVICE in the SUEZ CANAL ZONE of EGYPT until 1956

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The Suez Canal Zone Memorial
at the National Memorial Arboretum

Alrewas, Near Lichfield, Staffordshire.

In 2003 a suggestion was made by Suez Veteran Harold Heath to the committee of the Suez Veterans Association that a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Canal Zone should be built at the National Memorial Arboretum.  After much discussion Harold was given the job of submitting some designs with costs and making preliminary arrangements with the Arboretum management of the time.  Things progressed well, donations were received to increase the amount the SVA had pledged, a plot was obtained and preparation work began.  The memorial was unveiled at a dedication service held at the Arboretum on the 13th March 2004.

The service was taken by Rev Arthur Clarke, himself a Suez Veteran, (Ex Corporal, Cheshire Regiment,) and about 300 Suez Vets and family members were in
attendance.  Others officiating at the service were: Ron Watt, (Ex RAF Police,) John Dwyer, (Ex 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment,) Tony Rigden, (Ex RAF Signals,) and Dennis Sanders, (Ex Royal Army Veterinary Corps.)  A wreath was laid by John Davis, (Ex 16th Para Brigade,) and Jeff Malone, (Ex RAF) played the Last Post.

The plot is at the corner of two walkways and consists of a pyramid shaped plinth with a narrow trench filled with blue glass chippings with sand either side to give the effect of the Canal and the surrounding desert. Four Palm trees have been planted and a seat has already been donated, this has been placed on a small grassed area.  The plot will be added to and improved when the necessary funds are available.  Thoughts for the future include a flag pole and flag.

The idea of a National Memorial Arboretum came to David Childs in 1988 after visiting the Arlington Cemetery in the USA, he thought something similar should be
provided in Britain to remember and honour the eighty million souls who lost their lives during the twentieth century in different wars and conflicts. His proposal was to create a living garden with memorials and plans developed 
further after he met with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, CH, DSO, DFC.  Eventually approximately one hundred and fifty acres of reclaimed quarry land close to the village of Alrewas, near Lichfield in Staffordshire, and adjacent to the River Thame, was generously donated by Lafarge Aggregates Ltd who were pleased to play a key role in the early development. The planting of trees and shrubs began in 1997 and the Arboretum was officially opened on the 16th May 2001.

There are now well over 70 separate memorials built on the site, some large ones and others more modest.  Many Ships, Regiments, Corps, Squadrons, Units and
Associations from all branches of the Armed Forces, plus civilian services and organisations are well represented.  Amongst the latest to be dedicated are the
Burma Railway and National Service Memorials.  There are also a lot of trees planted by families in memory of individual persons. It is an on-going project with more memorials to be built and development work continuing.

The National Memorial Arboretum is now run by the Royal British Legion and is well worth a visit.  It is situated just outside the village of Alrewas, off the A38 about eight miles below Burton on Trent. There is plenty of space for car parking at £2 per day, no entrance fee, is wheel chair friendly and has a Remembrance Garden, a Chapel, conference room, visitor centre, restaurant and gift shop. Most of a day could be spent wandering around looking at all the Arboretum has to offer in its 150 acres with approximately 150 Memorials, including the magnificent Armed Forces Memorial.

The Memorial Plinth.
In the Visitor Centre before the Service.
During the Dedication Service.
Harold Heath salutes the Memorial
These four photos were taken at the Dedication Service of the Suez Canal Zone Memorial, 13th March 2004.

On the Memorial Plaque is the Suez Veterans Association badge and the dedication:
This memorial is dedicated to the
Service Personnel
who served in the
Canal Zone of Egypt
and is a tribute to
those who died in the
course of their duty.
1939 - 1956

        Memorial Plot - photo updates.   
photo     photo
These two photos of the Memorial Plot were taken on 19th June 2006.
The wreaths were laid on 30th May 2006 during the Suez Veterans Parade and Service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of withdrawal from the Zone.
A recent addition to the plot is a stand with a frame containing some sand that was collected and brought back from the Moascar War Cemetery in May 2006.

These two photos were taken on 24th June 2007.

These two were taken on 4th April 2009, after some renovation.
The plot has been renovated again since then.

The Palm trees have survived the winters, continue to grow well and are still protected from the rabbits.

A matter of interest.   The large building beyond the plot is the Far East Prisoners of War Memorial Museum.
This museum and the Armed Forces Memorial are well worth paying a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum.

© Charlie Delta. October 2004.
Revised: April 2009.