Prince Harry to attend Bastion service and memorial unveiling

29 May 2015

His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales will attend a Service of Dedication on Thursday 11 June to inaugurate the Bastion Memorial, and remember those who lost their lives during combat operations in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry will join family and friends of the Fallen, including current personnel and veterans, to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Senior political and military representatives, military charities and organisations, and the UK’s NATO allies will also be represented.

At the Service, the Bastion Memorial will be dedicated and there will be a one-minute silence to remember and pay tribute to the Fallen. The Royal British Legion will host a reception for bereaved family and friends after the Service.

The reconstructed Bastion Memorial replicates the same design as the former Bastion Memorial Wall in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan that was deconstructed in late 2014 following the end of combat operations. The new memorial, containing some elements from the original such as the Cross made of shell cases, is built with different materials. It also has a raised map of Afghanistan mounted on the rear, which marks the locations where the UK forces served over the 13-year campaign.

Major Thomas McDermott of The Royal Tank Regiment served several tours in Afghanistan, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He lost a close friend there in 2009, Captain Tom Sawyer. In 2013 on another tour of duty, a member of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force under his command, Lance Corporal Jay Brynin, also lost his life. He said:

"The Memorial Wall in Camp Bastion was an important part of how we coped with loss. It was the heart of the Camp, and over the years gave thousands of soldiers a focal point for thought and remembrance. It was common, particularly after memorials and vigils, to see soldiers spending time around it reflecting on their fallen comrades.

“Bringing the heart of Bastion back to the heart of the country, Staffordshire, is exactly the right thing to do, sustaining the ability of family, friends and comrades to remember those they loved and lost. It really will help to ensure that we never forget.”

Jacqui Thompson is the widow of Senior Aircraftman Gary Thompson, a Reservist based at RAF Cottesmore who died in 2008 in Afghanistan, and they have five daughters. Jacqui said:

“It's a little over seven years since we lost Gary, and to be honest the sense of loss just seems to get bigger! The Bastion Service will be so hard for me because I wasn't there for Gary's final moments, I never got to hold him or say goodbye.

“I cannot think of a more fitting place for the Bastion Wall's final resting place than the National Memorial Arboretum. It is such an incredibly special place. It’s where Gary and our brave men and women have a place where they will never be forgotten.”

Up to seven members of each bereaved family can attend the service. After 11 June, the public can visit the Bastion Memorial year-round at the NMA, the UK’s centre of Remembrance. The NMA, part of The Royal British Legion, is also home to the Armed Forces Memorial, the UK's tribute to all servicemen and women killed on duty or by acts of terrorism since 1948.

Please note:

The Service of Dedication is by invitation only. Welfare teams from all three Services have written to the families of the Fallen to invite them to the event. Family members who would like to attend or have any queries are encouraged to contact:
Royal Navy: Corporal Phil Barnes T: 023 9254 7206
British Army: Army Aftercare Cell, T: 01264 381 714
Royal Air Force: Squadron Leader Sharon McMillan T: 01494 496 584

Media contacts:

MOD Events Team on 0207 218 0341
National Memorial Arboretum and The Royal British Legion on 07775 715 775
Royal Communications on 020 7930 4832

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