A SALUTE to the servicemen and women of Durham was unveiled yesterday.
The revealing of a statue of a Durham Light Infantry bugler outside the city’s Town Hall was the centre point of DLI Memorial Weekend.
The weekend, organised by Durham County Council and the DLI Association, saw VIPs including General Sir Peter de la Billiere, former Director of the SAS and Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the 1990 Gulf War, and Lieutenant General Tim Evans, Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, at the celebrations, as well as Sunderland-born journalist Kate Adie.
The statue, which is cast in bronze, symbolises the moment a platoon of DLI soldiers sounded the ceasefire from a hilltop on the Korean frontline in 1953.
It was the regiment’s last battle honour.
Colonel James Ramsbotham, who served in the Royal Green Jackets for 12 years, said: “Because the last battle honour was Korea in 1953 and the bugler sounded the Last Post at the ceasefire of that conflict, we have a statue of a bugler.
“When you see it, it looks slightly bent over. The reason for this is so that when you stand in front of it you can look this man in the eye.
“It might be someone’s son, someone’s husband or someone’s brother.”
Col Ramsbotham said the statue, which followed the regiment’s donation of a permanent memorial to the Royal Arboretum in Staffordshire, had an everyman feel and would join statues of Neptune and Lord Londonderry already on display in Market Place.
He added: “Everybody who has seen it is full of praise - there have not been many objections.”
Funds were raised through a series of fund raisers and the first statue, in Staffordshire, cost around £100,000.
Col Ramsbotham, who is Chief Executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said the new statue was partly funded by the sale of regimental silver that was no longer on display.
He said: “We donated a statue to the Royal Arboretum and we raised about £100,000 for that one and we raised about £150,000 for this one.
“We had a lot of old regimental silver, some in the staff office or the regimental museum, and we thought why not turn it into bronze. We sold it off for about £35,000.”
The extra funds will go towards feeding around 600 veterans that were due to attend this weekend’s events.