National Memorial Arboretum
RATS ASSOCIATION MEMORIAL PROJECT
Armoured Division, the 4th Armoured Brigade and the 7th Armoured Brigade
Sand – Blood
produce a sculpture of the Association's
insignia, a Jerboa, that would represent the history and spirit of
the Desert Rats. To celebrate and commemorate the lives of those who have
served, fought and died.
The proposed memorial will include the existing memorial, which was at Sandhurst, this will be repaired and conserved where appropriate. The original memorial will be positioned in pride of place on higher ground. The new memorial will complement the original and acknowledge the history of the Desert Rats using the insignia of the Jerboa as a focus.
- Phase 1
proposed stylised sculpture, whilst representing the Desert Rats insignia of the
Jerboa, will also symbolise armour, both light and heavy.
‘Rat’ will be 1.64m high x 0.4m wide x 1.5m long, made of flame-cut
laminated Corten steel and left with a rust finish which will in time run
and stain the plinth to signify the blood spilt in battle. This will
be placed on a stone plinth, with sloping slides to represent the angles used on
some armour and tanks. The sides of the plinth will be carved with a sand
motif and with the words “DESERT RATS” engraved and fading in and out of the
will be a French drain around the base of the plinth, covered with track from an
armoured vehicle, and on the outside of that a strip of York stone paving to
reduce the risk of wear and tear to the surrounding area.
memorials will be positioned in an oval area with two crescent shaped mounds.
The landscaping will echo the shape of dunes, steeper on one side than the
other, and covered in turf.
The original memorial will be placed on the higher of the two mounds with the ‘Desert Rat’ on its’ plinth in the centre between. The ‘Desert Rat’ will be orientated towards El Alamein, Egypt thus pointing in the direction of the origin of the 7th Armoured Division and of course both 4th and 7th Armoured Brigades
SCULPTORS IMPRESSION OF FINISHED SITE
2 - Removal of Desert Rats Memorial from Sandhurst Military Academy
On 3rd & 4th April 19, with the help of Major General Paul Nanson, Lt Col Simon C-S, Major Curt Gibson, Scotty, Bomber, Paul and Richard, carefully dismantled the Desert Rats Memorial
Old mortar was removed to ease the joints and then each section was lifted off using a gantry and pulley system. The foundation needed a little more force to release the base stone, but it came away relatively easily.
These were then wrapped with softening, put onto
pallets before being loaded up and moved from outside Robertson House, Sandhurst
to Gray’s Stone Carving Studio, Wiltshire.
Here they will be stored and renovated ready to be incorporated into the
larger Desert Rats Memorial at the National Memorial
Phase 3 – Purchase of
Plot at National Arboretum and Stone Plinth
In December 2019 Henry Gray, Tamsin Gray (sculptor and
his wife) and our Chairman visited the National
Memorial Arboretum, to discuss potential plots of land for the Desert Rats
Association memorial with the Grounds Maintenance and Facilities Manager.
The Association was offered three potential options/locations within the
National Memorial Arboretum grounds and asked to submit an application to raise
a memorial. The application to the
National Memorial Arboretum cost £1000.00, which the Association has paid.
In April 2020 the National Arboretum convened a memorial meeting and
confirmed that the Association had been successful and that the application
(produced by Tamsin and Henry Gray) was one of the best they had seen and if the
Association was content could they use it as an example to other organisation
applying for land.
Location of the Memorial
The Association has visited the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire and after considering a number of sites has agreed on the purchase of one in the area of Option 2 shown below.
Schematic of The National Memorial Arboretum
Aerial View of The National Memorial Arboretum
Renovation of the Sandhurst Memorial
Work has started on the renovation of the Sandhurst memorial and before and after pictures can be seen below
|The Top of Sandhurst Memorial at the Studio of Henry Gray|
Phase 4 & 5
Phase 4 is the purchase and sculpturing of the plinth
by Henry Gray and veterans and Phase 5 is the purchase of the flame-cut
laminated Corten steel. This is all
to be completed in time to assemble the memorial and prepare the site at the
National Memorial Arboretum in the early summer of 2022.
Progress on the Memorial
Here are some photographs of veterans working on parts of the Memorial at Gray's Stone Carving Studios. Many of them are using the carving as part of their theory for various conditions.
|A memorial for veterans, created by veterans.|
|Henry and Tam Gray, with the 'Carving Crew'|
The Jerboa above is a wooden 'mock up' to get it has the right dimensions before we commission the final Steel version. (Details of how to donate, below).
Once the Plinth, Sandhurst memorial and Desert Rat are
ready, we will ask for a team of veterans/volunteers to help with the
groundworks at the National Memorial Arboretum,
including the installation of the plinth. The
original memorial from Sandhurst/Berlin will be put in position and any
additional repairs/restoration completed. Finally,
the ‘Desert Rat’ will be installed, whereupon we will hold a grand
opening, to which all veterans and donors will be invited.
The Association has raised over £20k to date and 2020/21 were to be the main fundraising years. COVID 19 has put a significant dent into progress, but the Association has a busy second half of the year and hopes to remain roughly on track into 2021. The Association Trustees are to write to Regimental Associations, the National Lottery and other such organisations to help raise funds to reach the Association’s total to ensure the 'Desert Rats' can raise a fitting memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum on the 80th Anniversary of the Second Battle of El Alamein 23rd October 2022.
Progress to May 2022
Here are the latest photos of where we are with the memorial showing the memorial which is nearly complete. The plot has been seeded, so we hope there will be the right mixture of sunshine and showers for the next few weeks, so all the grass seed to take fully.
|New Desert Rat Memorial, with the Sandhurst Memorial in the background.||Sandhurst Memorial with the new memorial in the background.|
|One side of the Sandhurst Memorial, which dates back to the end of WW2 when it was erected in Berlin by the Desert Rats. This side lists the places in which county when the Desert Rats served in WW2. (i.e. Battle Honours)||Other side of the Sandhurst Memorial. This lists the countries that the Desert Rats served in, during WW2||Sandhurst Memorial with sun behind it.|
|New Desert Rats Memorial with the sun behind it.||New Desert Rats Memorial. Please note it has the words “DESERT RATS” on both sides of memorial Jerboa Plinth fading in and out of sand.||CVR-(T) around the memorial base with the French drain,|
The French drain around the base of the plinth, will be covered with CVR(T) track (to act as the drains grate). On some of the CVR(T) the track rubber will be removed and bronze plates will be added with sponsors names, donating associations or organisations, engraved on it.
Commemoration and dedication
The new Desert Rats Memorial was dedicated on the 80th Anniversary of the Second Battle of El Alamein, 23rd October 2022, with veterans of all ages in attendance, plus modern day service personnel from both 4th Light Mechanized Combat Team and 7th Light Mechanized Combat Team. along with many of our kind sponsors.
We would like to thank everyone who helped us in this project, which is an enduring Memorial to those who have worn the Jerboa from the 1940's to the present day and those who will wear it in years to come.
Here are a few photographs and video from the event.
|The front of the Memorial||The words 'Desert Rats' fading in and out the the 'sand'||A view of the Gulf War Memorial in the background.|
|The original Memorial from Berlin, via Sandhurst.|
|Rehearsals and preparations from the day before the Ceremony|
|Some of our guests before the service||The Piper from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.|
|The Band of the Royal Yeomanry||Some of our guests after the dedication service around the memorial|
|The Bronze plaques, around part of the base.||The memorial after the ceremony with the wreaths.|