The Neptune and Kandahar Memorial was erected in 2005 at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, and dedicated on July 9th 2005 with 405 members and guests present. It was an amazingly successful and memorable day and all those who came very much enjoyed it.
Five years later, on July 9th, 2010, a commemoration event to honour the 836 men of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal New Zealand Navy and the South African Defence forces who served and lost their lives in HMS Neptune and HMS Kandahar on December 19th 1941, together with the 1418 men of HMS Hood who lost their lives on May 24th 1941, was held at their respective monuments at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas.
Visitors started arriving early on what was a beautiful summer day, just as it was on July 9th 2005 when the Neptune and Kandahar memorial was dedicated. They were greeted by the Chairman and founder of the Neptune Association, Commander John McGregor and the Association's Secretary, Gillian Wadden and Commander Keith Evans from the Hood Association. Badges were given out by members of the committee and a team of 'ushers' was there to help the visitors to find their way around.
Many of the visitors took the opportunity to take part in the daily 'Homage' service in the Millenium Chapel before assembling in the area between the two monuments
The ceremonial began with the bugler sounding various commands and the white ensign was lowered to half-mast during which time, the verse 'There are no flowers on a sailors grave was read by Diana Clayton, daughter of Royal Marine Sergeant William Crocker. The standard bearers then took their places at each of the Memorials
Commander John McGregor, for HMS Neptune and HMS Kandahar, and Commander Keith Evans for HMS Hood then welcomed their guests.
The service which followed was led by the Venerable John Green, Chaplain to the Fleet and also to the Neptune Association and the Hood Association.
Prayers were read by Commander James Routledge RNZN, Naval Advisor, New Zealand High Commission and Alec Kellaway, Trustee of the Hood Association. The service continued with readings by Commander Keith Evans and Captain Michael Tarr, OBE, RN, Captain of HMS Neptune, Faslane. The Naval Prayer was read by all and was followed by the singing of the Naval Hymn. The service ended with the Act of Remembrance, read by Commander Nicolas Wright, the Exhortation, read by Sir Harold Walker, the Minutes silence and the Reading of the Kohima Epitaph by Liz Dean. Those who were laying wreaths then took their places at each of the monuments. The wreath for HMS Neptune was laid by Harold Mason, and the Kandahar wreath was laid by Valerie Pennifer.
Lunch was then served in the marquee where Adrian Fewins had set up an exhibition showing his plans for 'Minefield, 2nd edition which will be launched at the Neptune Association's AGM in November.
Special thanks go to Nick and Gerry Wright for organising the service and to Bas Bowyer for arranging the ceremonial aspect of the service.