National Memorial Arboretum

DESERT RATS ASSOCIATION MEMORIAL PROJECT

7th Armoured Division, the 4th Armoured Brigade and the 7th Armoured Brigade

 

Iron Stone – Sand – Blood

 

CONCEPT

To 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.

 

 

DESIGN - Phase 1

 

The proposed stylised sculpture, whilst representing the Desert Rats insignia of the Jerboa, will also symbolise armour, both light and heavy.

 

The ‘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 pattern. 

 

There 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.

 

LANDSCAPING/ORIENTATION

 

The 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

Phase 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 Arboretum, Staffordshire.  

 

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.

 

Phase 6

 

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.

 

Fundraising

 

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.

 

The total estimated cost to carry out all the work and place the Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum is approximately £75,000.

 

Making a Donation 

 

If you are interested in donating towards the NMA Memorial there are a number of ways that you can do so

 

Just Giving

Please click here to donate via Just Giving.

You can donate to this appeal by Paypal if you wish.

or contact our Treasurer to donate by other methods.

 

 

No matter how small or large your donation, it will all go toward honouring the memory of the men who have worn and continue to proudly wear the Jerboa badge of the Desert Rats and have served this country for over 80 years.  

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 unveiling plans

 

Subject to any health restricts, it is planned that a ceremony to inaugurate the Memorial will be held at the National Memorial Arboretum with those making a donating being invited to attend. A commemorative programme will be available, in which the names of those who donated will be included.

 

 

 

Any help, support or donations greatly appreciated

 

Yours Aye

 

S P Copley-Smith

 

S P Copley-Smith

Lt Col

Chairman 'Desert Rats' Association

14th August 2020

 


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