Duke of Kent pays tribute to Nottinghamshire War Dead on away day

The Duke of Kent spent the day in Nottingham on Friday. Prince Edward, The Queen’s cousin, carried out two engagements, the highlight of which was the unveiling of a new war memorial dedicated to Nottinghamshire’s natives who died during the First World War.

Friday marked 100 years since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on the 28th June 1919. The Treaty would officially bring an end to the First World War, which took place from July 1914 to November 1918. A perfect day, then, to remember those who lost their lives during those years, both at home and overseas.

The new memorial is situated on the Victoria Embankment, next to the Victoria Embankment memorial, on land bequeathed in perpetuity by Jesse Boot; it is the first memorial of its kind in the UK. It features the names of 13,501 men and women who lost their lives during the conflict, include the names of Victoria Cross winners, those who died in the Chilwell Shell Filling Disaster, The Nottingham Zeppelin Raid, and also those shot at dawn by their own army.

The memorial, which took seven years of research to complete and cost £395,000, was financed by contributions from the county’s residents and business owners, as well as the local councils.

Among the people gathered to watch the Duke cut the ribbon, and officially open the memorial, were relatives of those whose names are featured on it, such as Nicola Wood. Ms Wood is the great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Baxter. Thomas was killed when the national shell-filling factory in Chilwell exploded in 1918.

Eight tonnes of TNT exploded at the factory, resulting in the deaths of 134 people – tragically only 32 of those people could actually be identified. Their remains are buried in a mass grave.

Thomas had, on that faithful day, swapped shifts with his wife who also happened to work at the factory. He left behind Mrs Baxter, who would die four years later, and their 13 children.

Ms Wood, who was interviewed by the Nottingham Post following the event, said that she thought the memorial was very fitting and tasteful and; “I do think it’s lovely they have brought everyone together, not just the ones killed abroad, but also on the home front.”

Another name featured on the memorial is that of Sapper William Hackett, who was represented by his grand cousin at the ceremony. Hackett was a miner and a recipient of a posthumous Victoria Cross, after he saved the lives of his fellow miners at the Somme in 1916.

The group had been tunnelling into enemy territory to lay mines, when their plan was discovered by the Germans. The Germans began to shell the tunnel, soon bringing the mine down and trapping the miners within.

After 20 hours of digging, the miners managed to reach the surface. Hackett helped three of his men out, but when it was his turn to escape he refused. He would not leave a seriously injured miner in the tunnel, telling the others: “I am a tunneller, I look after the others first.” The escape tunnel soon collapsed and, although there were attempts to find him and the injured miner, Hackett is buried there to this day.

Members of the Armed Forces, including the Air Cadets, HMS Sherwood and The Royal Lancers were all present at the ceremony. The Duke of Kent himself is Field Marshal of the Royal Scots Greys, as well as Colonel of the Scots Guards. 

The Duke of Kent also attend a reception for recipients of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise, where TTS Group LTD collected their second Queen’s Award for International Trade.

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