A fitting memorial; The Submariner Memorial was dedicated in the presence of HRH The Duke of Cambridge

Today the submariner memorial in the presence of Commodore-in-Chief Submarines, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.

The Submariner Memorial Appeal was set up to create a memorial fit to honour and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Service in the Royal Navy and in particular the Submarine Service brings with it long periods of separation from loved ones often with no contact at all.

Today’s dedication is the culmination of a campaign which began with a national competition in 2020 inviting ideas to inspire the memorial. The competition’s overall winners were the Groves family, themselves retired and serving submariners. The idea was then developed by renowned artist and sculptor Paul Day, famous for iconic creations including the Battle of Britain Memorial on London’s Embankment and the Meeting Place sculpture at St Pancras station.

Since the second world war some 450 submariners have lost their lives in service and until now there has been nowhere for families, friends, and shipmates of the fallen where they can try and find peace in the face of tragedy. The memorial is a vital place for personal reflection, repair, and renewal, and somewhere for the submarine community to come together as a family in remembrance.

Commodore Jim Perks, OBE, RN, Commodore Submarine Service said:

“The VANGUARD, ASTUTE and future DREADNOUGHT Class submarines bear little resemblance to those of yesteryear but the spirit, professionalism and ultimately sacrifice of the people who serve in them are identical. Today’s submariners remember with pride those who have gone before and support the new memorial with all their hearts.”

In his speech, Commodore-in-Chief Submarines, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge said:

“Inspired by the competition winners and their ideas, Paul Day has created a truly fitting memorial to those lost, and sadly, to those who may give their lives in years to come.  This memorial beautifully captures all elements of the world in which you live, whether in service or in support at home.  It harnesses in physical form the struggles this life of service can lead to – the loneliness of separation, the expectation of return, and the fortitude your way of life demands.

“It is a great testament to the spirit of this indomitable community that everyone came together to make the image of this memorial a reality. That all parts of the submarine community: serving, veterans, families and the submarine industries have come together to raise the large amount of money needed is testament to your spirit and energy.”

Chairman of the appeal, Vice Admiral Peter John Wilkinson CB CVO said:

“There is no more challenging environment in which to work – the great oceans of the world are tough enough, but to operate safely and effectively, deep under their surface demands great skill and dedication.

“And for many, we must also acknowledge the enduring pain caused by the memory of lost shipmates, who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. I know that this memorial, this arboretum, means something to every one of us.”

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