Today Prince Harry has dedicated the Bastion Memorial at its permanent home at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The memorial was a temporary memorial space at Camp Bastion, but has since been returned to the UK, to be placed at the arboretum. The memorial is a concrete plinth, with a cross made from empty shells atop, as soldiers found their own way to remember the fallen.
The touching ceremony comprised of prayers, hymns, and an address from Prince Harry, who himself saw two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
‘As we sit here amongst friends, we can take comfort in the knowledge that they gave their lives doing a job they loved, for a country they loved, and amongst mates who loved them dearly.
‘Once this ceremony is ended and all the trappings of the day have been cleared away, this will become a place of pilgrimage, a quiet space for remembrance just as it was in Camp Bastion, all those miles away.’
Its simple granite construction bears 12 name plates inscribed recording the fallen, and to its front is a great stone plinth topped with a shining cross made from old brass shell casings.
Inside the memorial lie a number of items, including the last Union Flag to fly at Camp Bastion and a diamond heart pendent, donated by the Jacqui Thompson, whose husband Gary was killed when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine in 2008.
Prayers were said, hymns were sung and family remembered; a number of sniffles could be heard throughout the ceremony, as guests remembered those they had lost.
David Cameron was another guest, and both Captain Wales and the Prime Minister laid wreaths at the memorial, with personal messages.
Harry’s read: ‘The fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters named on this memorial, will forever be in our thoughts and prayers, as are those who miss them so dearly. Harry.’
The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance, and is located in Alrewas, Staffordshire. Trees, benched and over 300 memorials mark lives lost in the line-of-duty, as well as the personal sacrifices made by the Armed Forces and civil services of Britain.
Prince Harry then attended a reception with the guests, most of whom were family and friends of those who had died during the Afghanistan conflict; the others were servicemen and women.
Photos: © Chloe Howard 2015