A MEMORIAL in honour of one of the country’s best-known military regiments has been given the royal seal of approval.
The Durham Light Infantry (DLI) monument has been created as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices of those who served in the regiment.
It features a bronze statue of a DLI bugler dressed in the combat uniform of the Korean War and standing on a stone plinth, bearing an inscription of the words of Field Marshal Montgomery: “There may be some Regiments as good, but I know of none better”.
It was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, earlier this month.
Guest of honour at a Service of Dedication was Her Royal Highness The Princess Alexandra, who was made Colonel in Chief of the DLI on her 21st birthday and later of the Light Infantry into which it was merged before evolving ultimately into The Rifles.
The patron of the DLI Association was joined by veterans at the event.
Colonel Arthur Charlton, a DLI trustee, said: “It was excellent event. We had 500 official guests. There was a 20-minute service of dedication at the memorial followed by a reception at which the princess met as many of the guests and veterans as possible.”
The appeal to raise the £75,000 needed for the memorial was launched last year after two former DLI soldiers – former regimental signaller Keith Straughier and former bugler Richard Softely – visited the Arboretum, which is part of the Royal British Legion’s family of charities and home to more than 200 memorials.
On discovering the DLI was not represented at the site, they were determined to put it right.
The statue, originally modelled in clay by sculptor Alan Herriot, in Howgate, Edinburgh, is based on a photograph of the then 18-year-old Colour Sergeant Brandon Mulvey, from Chester-le-Street.
Brandon, the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for County Durham, posed in original Korean War combat uniform, symbolic because it was a platoon of 1 DLI buglers who sounded the ceasefire in Korea in 1953 from a hilltop on the front line.
Korea was also the regiment’s last Battle Honour.
Col Charlton, who is also an appeal co-ordinator, said: “It was quite an emotional event for the two veterans who had first initiated the idea.
“Seeing the splendid memorial finally in place was for them a dream come true.
“Everyone was impressed by the statue on its inscribed Portland Stone plinth, especially Brandon Mulvey.
“Alan Herriot was delighted with the outcome of his work, his first sculpture to be sited in the National Memorial Arboretum.
“There was a great deal of satisfaction seeing the finished article in place, but it could not have been accomplished without all the generous donations.
“We are now looking to satisfy public demand for a second casting of the sculpture to be sited in Durham City and negotiations are currently under way to find a suitable location.”