suez canal part view

Suez Veterans' Association Memorial.

At the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.

In 2003, six years into the existance of the Association, member Harold Heath of Stafford asked the Committee for their thoughts of having a memorial to remember those who had lost their lives in the Canal Zone.  After a lengthy discussion, Harold was given the job of making preliminary arrangements with the Arboretum management, and submitting some designs.  Things progressed well, donations were received which increased the amount the SVA could pledge.  The plot of ground offered by the Arboretum was accepted and preparation work began.  The plot is on a corner of two walkways and consisted of a Pyramid shaped Memorial.  A few flag-stones were laid and a quarter of the plot covered with sand with a narrow trench filled with blue glass chippings to represent the Canal.  The remainder was grassed over.  Four small palm type trees were obtained and set.  The Memorial was opened at a dedication service held on 13th March 2004

old memorial
old memorial
old memorial
Four views of the original SVA Memorial.

After a while two things showed up.  Although the sand was spread over a membrane, weeds soon began to grow through, and rabbits had a great time trying to burrow into the sand and also into the 'canal' so that blue glass chippings were being mixed with the sand.  All this made a lot of maintenance and tidying up to be done and it was the members who lived within striking distance that often visited the site to carry out the work.  Not only weeding and seeing to rabbit damage, but also raking the sand to remove the footprints where people had walked all over it, and in at least one case remove tyre tracks where a vehicle had driven over a corner.
It became obvious that something had to be done and sometime in late 2011 a member, the late Brian Watts, (who later took over as Association Secretary), came forward with some ideas for a complete overhaul.  With his building experience and contacts made through his business, he managed to arrange a lot of work to be done at very little cost, sometimes no cost at all.  His plans were accepted and work began on the plot early 2012.

working on the plot
working on the plot
Work in progress on the revamp.

The new lay-out had a slightly larger Pyramin on a plinth, a Memorial Cross is included, information plaques added and the 'canal' is a coloured composition.  The trees were re-planted and are surviving nicely.  The Crosses around the tree trunks are in Memory of those Servicemen who lost their lives in the Malta air-crash, 18th February 1956.  Each cross has a name engrave upon it.
On the Pyramid is a small plaque which reads:

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

Also on the Pyramid is a small display frame containing a quantity of sand that was collected from the British Military Cemetery at Moascar and brought back by a member and his wife who had been on one of the SVA organised visits to the Zone.  Two seats have been donated

cross on the memorial

view of memorial

view of memorial

view of memorial
view of memorial

view of memorial

view of memorial
Recent views of the Memorial.

map plaque
Plaque showing a map of the Zone.
plaque showing units list
Plaque showing list of Units who served in the Zone

The new Memorial was re-dedicated on Saturday 31st March, 2012 with a well attended Service and Parade.
sva vets on parade       standard bearers
Here are some of the Members and the Standard Bearers who took part.

All looks good on the plot and is liked by the Arboretum management due to its lay-out and the number of notices, or plaques, giving information about the reasons of the Memorial to the visitors.  So, with the Suez Veterans' Association closing down, what of the future for the Memorial?   An agreement between the SVA and the National Memorial Arboretum, has been signed whereby the NMA will carry out required maintainance to the Memorial, and keep it in good order, for the next 20 years, at a sizeable, but fair, cost to the Association, which has been paid.

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