On Saturday, 17 September 2016, the BRIXMIS Association conducted a dedication ceremony for the BRIXMIS memorial that now stands at the UK’s National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas (north of Birmingham and almost in the exact geographic center of England).
MG Peter Williams, the chairman of the BRIXMIS Association and twice a member of that Mission (Tour Officer, Chief of Ground), both presided at the event and replaced the intended speaker of honor General John Learmont (Chief of BRIXMIS, 1982-84), who had been injured only days before. The roughly 180 attendees included a representative of the Queen, BG and Mrs. Jean-Paul Huet (Chief of FMLM, 1983-87, and 1970s Tour Officer), and a number of former BRIXMIS senior officers. Col Kelley represented the USMLM Association at the event.
Major portions of the ceremony reflected the UK’s Anglican heritage. Two Anglican clergymen, incl. the honorary chaplain of the BRIXMIS Association Rev. Paul Abram (who had served in Berlin at the time of the Nicholson shooting and attended the memorial service for him there) conducted them, assisted by the Reverend Canon Paul Brothwell (the relative of a BRIXMIS officer).
The well-organized and -orchestrated ceremony enjoyed remarkably strong attendance, which included a surprisingly large number of veterans from the 1950s and 1960s! The atmosphere was festive, and the camaraderie across the years – typical for Mission events. The BRIXMIS Association intends to conduct a similar ceremony of remembrance every five years.
By way of background, the National Memorial Arboretum is a privately organized and funded venture that pays tribute to those who have served in or with the British armed forces, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Nearly all of the individuals who staff the NMA are volunteers donating their time. It is not a cemetery but an extensively landscaped green tract with currently over 300 individual monuments to various units and/or groups; to me, Alrewas has the feel and evokes much of the reverence of Arlington. The centerpiece of the NMA is a massive memorial complex on a hill dedicated to those who fell in the service of the Crown in the period since World War II. That complex is currently undergoing repairs, and in the interim a small-scale replica of it stands near the chapel and visitors’ center.
For information about the site, see: http://www.thenma.org.uk/ While not yet complete – the NMA is only a few years old – this memorial center regularly attracts a large number of visitors and, in my opinion, a visit represents a more than worthy option for those who may be contemplating a trip to the UK.
Provided by Col. Lawrence Kelley, USMC retired (USMLM 1983-86)