An imposing memorial to Lancashire’s last single-county regiment has been installed at the National Memorial Arboretum, the nation’s year-round centre for remembrance.
The memorial, the result of a fund-raising effort which raised more than £180,000 in just four years, commemorates The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (QLR), and those who served in the fine and proud county regiment.
It was due to be unveiled in March before the largest gathering of former members of the regiment since it was amalgamated in 2006, but the coronavirus outbreak forced a delay in completion and postponement of the unveiling.
Installation has now been completed ready for a re-organised official dedication ceremony, hopefully to be held later in 2021.
The QLR was formed by the amalgamation of The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) and The Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers) at Connaught Barracks in Dover on March 25, 1970. Both regiments have a place on the memorial.
It became Lancashire’s only county infantry regiment and held the record of having the most battle honours of any line infantry regiment in the British Army, two of these being Quebec and Waterloo where predecessors of the QLR fought with great distinction.
The regimental family included previous units from the north, south, and east of Lancashire and its history can be traced as far back as 1689. It was the only English infantry regiment to have the Queen as Colonel-in-Chief, an honour now inherited by the successor regiment, the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
After the amalgamation in 2006, and feeling strongly that the years of service of their much-loved regiment should not be allowed to disappear into history without commemoration, a group of regimental veterans conceived the idea of a permanent QLR memorial at the National Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire.
Starting in 2016, the group raised funds through donations, auctions and sponsored events which, through the generous support of the regimental family and the people of Lancashire, raised a sum which is now approaching £180,000, for the design, construction and maintenance of what will be one of the most impressive memorials at the Arboretum.
“This memorial has been made possible by the amazing generosity of not only our own regimental veterans, but also the people of Lancashire,” said Joe Horvath, chairman of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Veterans Charity.
“It just shows how fondly the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment is remembered. The support has been overwhelming. Words cannot express how grateful we are.”
Some 650 members of the regimental family, many travelling from abroad, were due to attend the unveiling on March 25, 2020, the 50th anniversary of the formation of the regiment. But with only 10 days to go, the outbreak of the pandemic forced its postponement.
With the pandemic showing no signs of abating, the organising committee decided to go ahead with installation of the memorial and this was completed in early December 2020.
The memorial design is simple, consisting of the regiment’s flag and the cap badge worn by its soldiers. The beauty, however, is in the materials used in its creation. The flag in full blazing colour is made out of glass and stands a two metres in height. It is three metres wide and in its centre is the regimental crest, the red rose of Lancaster charged with the royal crown with gold leaf.
The badge is 12.8 times the size of the original cast in solid bronze and mounted on a one tonne plinth. The foundation base is a five metre perfect square, which recalls the formation used by infantry regiments in defence during the Napoleonic wars.
The words ‘The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment 1970-2006’ are inscribed in large lettering in front of the regimental flag with the regimental motto ‘Loyally I Serve’ being inscribed on the leading edge.
Along the left and right edges of the foundations the two antecedent regiments, ‘The ‘Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)’ and ‘The Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers)’ are inscribed along with their respective mottoes.
A time capsule of regimental artefacts is entombed in the foundations of the memorial. The time capsule was carried on foot from the regiment’s traditional home at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, to the memorial site at the Arboretum, in September 2019, a distance of approximately 130 miles.
The entombing was planned to coincide with one of the regiment’s major battle honours, The Battle of Quebec. It was conducted on September 13, 2019, the 260th anniversary of the battle. A list of artefacts and a short regimental history is available to anyone with a smartphone device by simply clicking on the QR code situated on the front of the plinth.
The memorial stands proudly at the foot of the Arboretum’s central Armed Forces Memorial and has a magnificent backdrop. It can be clearly seen from most if not all angles of approach. It is a truly superb and befitting memorial to a much-loved county regiment whose soldiers served their county and country honourably.