It all started back in October 2012. Two members of our Regimental Association, Brian Duff and John Wibberley, reckoned that our Regiment should be properly represented at the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) at Alrewas in Staffordshire by placing a memorial there. When this organisation was first established in 2001, we elected to simply sponsor three trees to our regiments at the site. But since then, the NMA has grown in stature and importance, and is now truly our nation’s Centre for Remembrance, much visited and respected. Brian and John thought that we should up our game.
Photos: Brian Duff indicates a suitable spot, and one of the regimental trees.
The pair invited the then Chairman of our Regimental Association, Mike Richardson, and Deputy Chairman for Dorset, John Gaye, to visit the site. Initially skeptical, Mike and John became enthused and subsequently, Mike gave a briefing to the Regimental Trustees. Whilst it took a while to gather momentum, the seed had been sown. Gradually, the trustees also became convinced.
In January 2015, the Trustees established a project committee. Simon Young, a trustee and an artist, was selected as the lead. We advertised our requirement to the artistic world. Eleven artists pitched for the work with each one submitting an entirely different concept or idea against the given brief.
After a lot of debate and discussion, it was agreed Vivien Mallock’s design embraced the Regiments’ history and ethos best. Her concept comprised three soldier figures: a Devon on The Somme in World War 1; a Dorset at the Battle of Kohima in Burma in World War 2 and a Devon and Dorset on the streets of Northern Ireland (NI) in the 1970s. The overall theme encapsulated our particular regimental virtues: teamwork, family and operational excellence.
Vivien was commissioned for the work in September 2015. Yes, it took nine months to make the decision and rightly so too as there was a lot riding on it. But even before this, various recces of the NMA, as early as 2014, had taken place to establish where the memorial should stand. So finally, the scene was set for two years of visits, research, discussion, debate and design development and creativity.
Having approved a maquette for the design, complete with wooden replica plinths and headstones, and having gained the NMA’s agreement to go ahead in early 2016, the real work of remodeling the figures into full life-sized representations began. NI was first to be signed off in January 2017, followed by Somme and then Kohima with each taking roughly four months to complete.
As the modelling work won an enthusiastic thumbs-up, the complicated process of casting followed; this involved making separate moulds for heads, arms, legs, torsos, weapons and kit. Once cast in bronze, all these bits and pieces for the figures were expertly reassembled and welded together, then waxed and patinated in time for collection by Phoenix Marble and Granite Ltd. in mid-August 2017. Vivien’s studio work and that of the Talos Art Foundry was done; the ball was now firmly in Phoenix’s court.
The priory stone used for the forming of plinths and headstones was quarried in Italy, dug out of the ground, shipped to UK and delivered to the Phoenix base near Bournemouth for the intricate carving of badges and letter engraving in June 2017. The foundations were dug and poured in the first week of August in preparation for the memorial’s fixing three weeks later. The bronze information panel telling the story of the three regiments had already been prepared.
So, it wasn’t until the last week of August 2017 that it all started to come together with Somme, NI and Kohima finally marrying up with their plinths and headstones on site at the NMA. It was a pretty intense couple of days involving a 250-mile journey with the stone and bronze figures on board an 18-ton lorry crane from the South West to the NMA. Once on location the paving was laid and the memorial’s base and headstones were assembled leaving the second day for fixing the figures.
Everyone involved breathed a sigh of relief that it all fitted together perfectly, the result of careful planning and measurements, and saw for the first time that this memorial really was something special and carried impact for all to admire. It was roughly three years in the making - not that long for a project of this magnificence.
You can read separate reports of the development of the memorial, with accompanying photos, in the articles on the lefthand side of this page.
On Saturday 7th May, a gang of your National Memorial fundraisers paid a visit to our memorial sculptor, Vivien Mallock, at her studio near Andover. On parade were Mike Richardson, Whippit Clark, Andrew Edwards with his wife Debbie, and John Gaye, and we were joined for the visit by John Clift.
We were taking advantage of an open day at the Project Workshops, a collection of artists of which Vivien is one. Vivien's studio is in the photo on the right.
On a bright, sunny day, we were warmly welcomed by Vivien and her husband and business manager Ross; a past member of The Army Air Corps, and were able to view at first hand the wonderful maquette (artist's model) that Vivien has prepared and which adorns our fundraising pages. The photo on the left shows Vivien with her splendid design.
First, the scated-down maquette is produced which gives the sponsor an accurate view of what the final product will look like. Once this is finalised, Vivien breaks the maquette down into its constituent parts, then copies each one in clay at the larger, life-sized scale that will form the finished product. These are put together as they are completed.
Finally, the clay statues are taken to the Talos Art Foundry, conveniently situated next door, divided into small enough parts to cast, and covered with layers of differing ceramics that make a smooth, hollow cast. These casts are filled with bronze and baked in the foundry. On completion, they are welded together to make the final statues.
On the right, Geoff Moate, the Talos Foundry Manager, demonstrates how maquettes are treated. He is holding a bronze model from which the ceramics have been partially removed. In the foreground is a small bronze piece he has cast.
The statues will travel to The National Arboretum where they will be mounted on the stonework plinths and backing at the site. All this should be finished by early autumn 2017 and we will unveil them at a Regimental ceremony.
On the left: Andrew Edwards, Whippit Clarke, John Clift, Mike Richardson and John Gaye have clearly enjoyed their visit.
So, say goodbye to the maquette - it has served its purpose and must now go to work. We hope to show you more of the process as our memorial slowly forms in the coming months.
Our appeal has so far concentrated only on raising donations from our Association, and the excellent £30,000-odd that we have accrued so far (with Gift Aid) speaks volumes about the commitment and generosity of our members. But on Monday 23rd May:
On Monday 23rd May a strong regimental team assembled at The Keep Museum in Dorchester to host a media event that sigalled the launch of our National Memorial appeal to the public.
Managing the event were Mike Richardson, who looks after our fundraising, and Claire Vera, our Media Advisor. The BBC had filmed its piece a few days before, but the ITV News sent a correspondant, as did a number of newspapers and journals including The Blackmore Vale Magazine, The Dorset Echo and View From Newspapers.
Paddy King-Fretts followed, describing his the part his father Maj Paget King-Fretts (Photo on right) played as a company commander at the Battle of Kohima.
Finally, George and Richard Symes described what life was like for a soldier on the streets of Belfast in the 1970s.
All our presenters spoke of that close spirit of comradeship that they experienced during their service; comradeship that derives from the friends you served with, but also from their closeness to the families and communities of Devon and Dorset.
The group photo shows: Paddy, Mike, Vivien, Keith, Richard and George.
The photo on the left shows BBC correspondent Simon Clemison, watched by Claire, zooming in on a silk map of Burma that Paget King-Fretts carried throughout the Burma campaign.
Now our media launch is complete, we will be sending a press release to many media outlets in Devon and Dorset, so more news items should appear in print and on-line on the days to come.
We will also be approaching organisations and individuals across Devon and Dorset to invite them to make us a donation. And we will also be communicating with our 'Wider Regimental Family': the relations, friends, colleagues and neighbours of Devon and Dorset soldiers of any generation.
The names of Devons and Dorsets are engraved on war memorials in cities, towns and villages across our two counties and anyone can donate in their memory.
Details of the future location of our Regimental Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum have been finalised, and we have secured an excellent location. It sits to the north east of the Golden Grove, adjacent to a new ‘informal’ path linking the Polish Memorial to the Land Train route. The overall size is approximately 100 square metres.
The memorial itself will be constructed in the south-west corner of the site, facing the Land Train route as shown in the plan photo.
Landscaping will be straight-forward, allowing for easy maintenance, and the site will be laid to grass with one path, wide enough for wheelchairs, leading to the plinths. The existing bushes and young trees that lie immediately behind will frame the site and enhance the memorial’s impact as it is approached via the Land Train Route.
The air photo shows the location of The Devon and Dorset plot within the Arboretum.
This memorial commemorates those who served in the county infantry regiments of Devon and Dorset. For over three centuries they enjoyed fine reputations for professionalism and drew on the strong relationships with the counties from which they recruited. The Devonshire Regiment is represented by a soldier fighting on the Somme in 1916 during the First World War; the Dorset Regiment by a soldier in 1944 at the Battle of Kohima as part of the Burma Campaign in the Second World War; and the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment by a soldier on patrol in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. In 2007, the Regiment merged with others to form The Rifles. The memorial reflects the strong bond and comradeship felt by members of these proud Regiments.
On Thursday 12 January, the Regimental Trustees, led by Chairman, Maj Gen Bryan Dutton, visited the Hampshire studio of Vivien Mallock, our sculptor, to see how she is getting on with creating our memorial. As you will see, there has been some considerable progress.
As you will see from the photos below, the Devon and Dorset Northern Ireland statue is just about complete and the Trustees declared it outstanding. In addition, the Dorset Kohima figure is already taking shape and Vivien is now working flat-out on this one.
These figures are currently in clay and will be transformed by various complicated processes, into the final bronze versions, which will be exact copies.
The Regimental Trustees are: Bryan Dutton, Jeremy Archer, Rupert Jones (absent on duty), Colin Pape, Bill Sharpe, Richard Toomey, Simon Young and Secretary Geoff Nicholls. They were joined by Andrew Edwards, John Mellin and Mike Richardson, who are helping the Trustees within the Memorial Project.
Here are some more photos of our Devon and Dorset Regiment Northern Ireland figure, taken in January 2017 and kindly provided by Vivien Mallock.
On Monday 13th March, Regimental Trustee Simon Young, accompanied by our Regimental Association Vice Chairman Dorset, John Gaye, visited our sculptor, Vivien Mallock, at her studio to view the second of our three National Memorial figures; ‘Kohima’, which is now complete.
The photos below show a variety of views of this figure, depicting a soldier of the 2nd Dorsets at the Battle of Kohima in 1944. You can also see, in the background, wrapped in pink polythene, our previously completed Devon and Dorset Northern Ireland figure, now being dismembered for baking and casting in bronze. In one image, Simon and Vivien are adjusting the Kohima figure's Thompson machine-gun.
One photo shows, mysteriously cloaked in see-through polythene, the final figure; a Devon soldier on The Somme in 1916, which Vivien is now working on. That task should be complete in a month or so. The last photo is of Chris Emery, Managing Director of Wimborne-based Phoenix Marble and Granite Ltd; our stonemason. Chris is leaning against a slab of priory stone that will form part of the base and backing for our memorial.
The three life-size, bronze figures will be united with the stonework at The National Memorial Arboretum, once the site has been prepared.
These two photos show, in greater detail, the completed Kohima figure with the Northern Ireland figure encased in a pink ceramic mould, ready for casting in the foundry. The Somme figure is nearly complete and our Trustees will view the result on 3 May. We'll put some more photos on-line then.
On Tuesday 16th May, members of our Regimental Association visited Vivien Mallock's studio, near Andover, to see for themselves how our National Memorial project is developing. The team consisted of John Beresford, John Chubb, Brian Duff, Graham and Jane Gilley, Humphrie James, Martin King and Robert Steptoe. Mike Richardson went along as well to make the introductions. We received a warm welcome from Vivien and her business manager and husband Ross. After coffee, the visitors were treated to a full guided tour and demonstration of the process that will convert the clay figures into bronze.
First, Vivien told us something about her inspiration and intentions in creating our three memorial figures (Photo 1). We were all quite fascinated to see our three figures ‘up close’ in varied states of preparation. She and Ross then showed us how the full-sized clay figures are prepared for casting by being coated in various silicones. In Photo 2, Ross is briefing with Vivien to the left.
We then moved next door to the Talos Foundry, where the 'hot stuff' goes on (Photo 3 - stoking the fiery furnace). Ross gave us a splendid overview and various Talos staff explained the skills they employ to create wax models from the clay, then bronze figures from the wax. It is a long, exact and painstaking process in which many people take part, as you will see from the Technical Description (with more photos) enclosed with this article.
We gained a real understanding of, and great respect for, the complexity of the artistic and practical processes involved in all this, and the time required to complete them. It all comes together in September when the final bronze figures are married up with their stone backing and plinths at The National Memorial Arboretum.
Our visit was an outstanding success and we were all deeply impressed. After posing for the obligatory team photograph (Photo 4), some of us departed to a nearby pub for lunch. Later, Brian Duff emailed us to say, 'What a totally brilliant day - so interesting'.
John Beresford was clearly listening to all this very intently, and has kindly written a short article describing the conversion process in more detail, which we have illustrated with lots of photos taken whilst we were there.
Click here to read it - you'll find it very worthwhile!
Here are some of the Association team during the day. The third one shows what was in the white ceramic mould - the lower half of 'Northern Ireland', now in green wax! (click the photos for bigger versions):
The Chairman of our Regimental Trustees, Maj Gen Bryan Dutton, visited Vivien Mallock's studio on 3 May to check out the last of our three National Memorial figures; a soldier of the Devons at the Battle of The Somme in 1916. He was accompanied by Trustee Brig Simon Young and the Curator of The Keep Military Museum, Chris Copson. They found that Vivien has produced another outstanding work of art as you can see in the photos below. Simon told us:
'As you might expect he is excellent; he looks thoughtful and purposeful, but at the same time fully aware of that combat situation he’s about to launch into. His stance says it all'.
As a minor alteration, the figures's accoutrements will now include a gas mask pouch to be slung across the figure's shoulders, as worn by the soldiers that fought on the Somme.
Now that all three figures are complete, they will be divided into sections that will be cast in bronze and patinated; probably some time in late July or early August. As ever, we will produce further photographs of this development on this website. Keep looking!
As you can see from these photos taken in late June 2017 at Vivien Mallock's Studio and in the Talos Art Foundry, which is in the same complex, the wax figures described in the news item below are now starting to appear in bronze. Each section is 'bronzed' then reassembled to make the complete statues. Our 'artistic director' Simon Young says, 'Don’t be alarmed with the sparkle - that’ll go with patination'. To find out what 'patination' involves, please read John Beresford's Technical Description of the whole casting process.
We are all thrilled to start to see the actual figures emerge, and we'll keep you up to date with progress.
As you can see from these three photos, work to construct our site at the The National Memorial Arboretum has started. You can see the area where the plinth will be located and the path to it.
Meanwhile, the three memorial figures are receiving their last week of attention at the Talos Art Foundry and our Regimental Trustees will visit shortly to view the result. Thereafter, the figures will leave for the Wimborne-based Phoenix Marble and Granite Ltd which is preparing the stone plinth and backing. After some measuring up, all the parts will make the journey to Alrewas for assembly on site - all ready for the Dedication Ceremony on Sunday 17th September.
Last year, when we first saw our sculptor Vivien Mallock's design for our National Memorial, we got a very good idea of what an inspiring monument to our regiments it would be. Now, after a complex sculpting and casting process, the figures representing our regiments at key moments in their histories have emerged from the foundry.
The three figures were on parade at the Project Workshops at Quarley in Hampshire on Friday 11 August, having finally been cast in life-sized bronze by the Talos Art Foundry, and we were able to appreciate fully the scope and excellence of Vivien’s creation as the photos show. ‘Somme’ and ‘Northern Ireland’ are complete, but ‘Kohima’ still requires its final patination - the application of a coloured finish - as can be seen by its still-shiny surface. To find out more about the whole casting process, you can read John Beresford's Technical Description.
On the same day, the BBC’s Simon Clemison visited the Workshops to film and interview Vivian and the Talos foundry’s Simon Furnell, who has been responsible for the casting. Simon also met Christopher Hodgson, whose great-uncle Lt William Hodgson served in the 9th Devons on The Somme in 1916 and wrote the famous poem ‘Before Battle’, Jenny Jeapes, whose father Lt Col Geoffrey White was 2IC of 2nd Dorsets during The Battle of Kohima in 1944, and Martin King and Mike Richardson from our Regimental Association.
Once the media event was complete, Colin Pape and Simon Young arrived to view the figures on behalf of our Regimental Trustees. Simon said:
'We’re almost there - it has taken three years to reach this stage; Trustees and Regimental Association members at the Talos Art Foundry on Friday were unanimous. The clay models six months ago were exciting enough, but to see them in their final form cast in bronze was incredible; the pose, the kit and especially facial expressions reflect the Regiment’s enduring spirit of understated excellence brilliantly. These three figures are all we hoped for and more.’
In a few days’ time, the figures will be transported from the workshops to our stone masons, Phoenix Marble and Granite in Wimborne, where the stone plinth and backing are being prepared. After some measuring up, all the parts will make the journey to The National Memorial Arboretum for assembly on site - all ready for the Dedication Ceremony on Sunday 17th September.
Simon Clemison in action Simon Furnell Simon Young and Vivien Mallock
Photos by John Gaye, Colin Pape and Simon Young.
As described in the last news item, our three memorial figures are now at Phoenix Marble and Granite, near Wimborne, where they are being measured up for fixing to their stone plinths. The Priory stone backing panels are also nearing completion and next week, all the constituent parts will be transported to the National Memorial Arboretum, where the site has been prepared. There, they will all be married up, placed in position and fixed, then the site will receive its final landscaping so it's all ready for our Dedication Ceremony on 17 September.
The photos show Phoenix staff at work, engraving the motto and regimental badges onto the stone panels, and the finished results.
We are delighted to tell you that the Memorial is now in position at the The National Memorial Arboretum.
Trustee Simon Young visited the Arboretum last week to watch the process. He reports that a team of stone masons from Phoenix Marble and Granite first placed the Priory stone plinths, backing panels, walkway and information board onto the site, which had been prepared earlier to receive them (see news items below). Once that was complete, the three life-sized bronze figures were carefully lowered into position and fixed in place. Our sculptor Vivien Mallock was on hand to assist and put the finishing touches to her amazing creation. All that remains is for some final landscaping work and turfing, and the Memorial will be ready to take its bow at our Dedication Ceremony on 17th September.
Click the pictures in the gallery below to see all this work taking place. We'll put a full portfolio of photos onto this page after the Dedication showing the fully completed Memorial and the ceremony itself. So keep watching this website!
You can now text donations to The Devon and Dorset Regimental Association Charity
Text DDRA11 £? to 70070
Where ? can be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10
For more information on how to donate to the Association charity click here
The Story of the Dorset Regiment in War and Peace 1939-67 - compiled by Christopher Jary.
Click the picture to read more detail and order the book.
For a review of this book by John Gaye click here
Stories of service by Devon legionnaires - compiled by Paddy King-Fretts. Profits go to the RBL.
Click the picture to read more detail and order the book.
For a review of this book by Colin Pape click here
Profits go to ABF - The Soldiers Charity.
Click the picture for a link to the ABF shop page where you can order a copy.
A celebration of the Royal Family at Christmas
Profits go to The Rifles Care For Casualties (C4C) appeal.
Click the picture for details.
For a review of this book by John Gaye click here
The Regimental Association of The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment
The Rifle's Exeter Office,
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