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NAAFI Memorial at Arboretum

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published June 5th 2021
Centenary of the NAAFI to be marked with memorial
Work has begun on a new memorial to recognise the sacrifice made by members of a vital branch of the armed forces during the Second World War. Lt Gen James Swift, Chief of Defence People, was at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to break ground for a new Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) memorial. The memorial commemorates the more than 550 NAAFI personnel who died during World War Two and recognises the ongoing contribution of NAAFI uniformed branches on land, both at home and overseas, and with the Royal Navy onboard HM naval ships. NAAFI was established by the British Government in 1920 to run the recreational establishments needed by the Armed Forces, and to provide goods to servicemen and their families. Since the Second World War, NAAFI has continued to support British Armed Forces at home and abroad, including during the conflicts in The Falklands, the two Gulf Wars and Afghanistan, and still operates today in Germany, Gibraltar, Brunei, the South Atlantic Islands and onboard HM Ships.

National Memorial Arboretum, NAAFI
Lt Gen James Swift (centre) breaks ground at the National Memorial Arboretum alongside Tony Hales of NEA (left) and Lt Gen (rtd) Richard Nugee. Credit National Memorial Arboretum

Forming part of the NAAFI's centenary celebrations, the memorial was instigated by the Naval Canteen Service (NCS)/Expeditionary Force Institutes(EFI) Association (NEA). It has worked with stonemason Graeme Mitcheson to create a design carved from sandstone featuring a glazed full-colour NAAFI crest which will be installed at the Arboretum, at Alrewas, near Lichfield, ahead of a planned dedication ceremony in October. Steve Marshall, CEO of NAAFI, said: "NAAFI is central to Her Majesty's Armed Forces welfare, both through the service we provide and the essential contribution of the NAAFI Fund, We remain committed to honouring those that gave their lives in serving the Services." Lt. Gen (Rtd) Nugee, Chair of NAAFI, added: "For the last hundred years the NAAFI has been an integral part of the Armed Forces; it has entered the language, defines activities and exudes an aura of home and comfortable relaxation. Today, the groundbreaking for a memorial to those NAAFI employees who have lost their lives in their service is a vivid example of how NAAFI, through the dedication of its employees, supports the Armed Forces, whenever and wherever they're needed."

National Memorial Arboretum, Armed Forces Memorial
The Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum

The National Memorial Arboretum, which lies within the National Forest, is the UK's year-round centre for Remembrance. The 150-acre site is part of the Royal British Legion and has approximately 26,000 maturing trees and almost 400 memorials.
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Why? Help commemorate the unsung role of the NAAFI personnel
When: All year
Phone: 01283 245100
Where: National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Staffordshire DE13 7AR
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