A memorial for 32 soldiers from the Preston-based Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment who have died in service in the past 10 years is to be opened by the Queen tomorrow.
Her Majesty, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, will unveil the statue of a bronze lion on a stone plinth at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
We are sending quite a large contingent of soldiers to the ceremony. It should be quite a moving experience for everyone.
Family and friends of the 32 dead - two thirds of whom were killed on operational duties - have been invited to the private ceremony which will also be attended by serving soldiers, wounded veterans and the regimental band.
“It is a very big day for the regiment,” said regimental secretary Colonel Chris Owen. “Her Majesty the Queen is making a special visit to the Arboretum just to unveil our memorial.
“We are sending quite a large contingent of soldiers to the ceremony. It should be quite a moving experience for everyone.”
The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, known as the North West’s infantry, was formed 10 years ago by the amalgamation of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, the King’s Regiment and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.
Since then, 32 soldiers have died in service, 19 on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.
One of those commemorated on the memorial will be Kingsman David Robert Shaw, from Barrow, who died in hospital in Birmingham in January 2013 from wounds sustained when his checkpoint in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand Province came under attack by insurgents.
Another, Kingsman Jamie Hancock, who lived near Wigan, was shot while he was on sentry duty in Basra, Iraq in November 2006.
The Queen’s unveiling of the memorial is by invitation only, with priority being given to bereaved families. It will be the first time Her Majesty has visited the memorial site at Alrewas, near Lichfield, since 2011.
The Arboretum opened in 2001 and now attracts up to 3,000 visitors a day. It acknowledges “the personal sacrifices made by the armed and civil services of this country.”
The 150-acre site contains more than 240 monuments and around 50,000 trees - a living memorial devoted to the concept of remembrance.
The Duke of Lancaster’s memorial is a form of heraldic Lion of England and reflects the regiment’s right to wear the ancient royal badge. It will be dedicated after a short remembrance service.