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10/12/2020

The Welsh Guards Charity, in accordance with the following charitable objective, was delighted to fund the Welsh Guards Memorial Stone:  

  • To commemorate and remember those members, or former members, of the Welsh Guards who have lost their lives or suffered injury, or put themselves at risk of loss of life or injury, in service to the public.

by
Warrant Officer Class 2 D Hughes (39)
Company Sergeant Major Headquarter Company

With 6 unit moves in the last 17 years we haven’t exactly had anywhere we could call home, until now.  On moving into Combermere Barracks, Windsor it was clear that this was to be our new home and somewhere we could invest time and effort into making ours.

Stone
How it all began - a solid ump of Welsh slate

When the Household Cavalry departed, after nearly 200 years(!), they (quite rightly) took with them numerous items of history, including their historical vehicles that were dotted round camp.  They also took their memorial to their fallen soldiers that was situated near to the Guardroom and which was commonly referred to as “The Gate Guardian”. This gave me an idea, as I had visited numerous camps over the years, including various training regiments and tri-service stations, all of which had a memorial near their entrance.  A place that could be the focal point for events such as Remembrance Sunday but also somewhere soldiers could go to reflect on their fallen comrades.

I began to investigate what sort of memorial would suit not only us that are serving but also our veterans. I also wanted a piece of Wales here in Windsor and coming from a small mining town in North Wales, Welsh slate was an obvious choice. I decided to propose we purchase a slate memorial from the largest mine in the world in Blaenau Ffestiniog, crowned the town that roofed the world; the slate has a certain shade of grey that is only found there.

Stone
Cut and smoothed

The Commanding Officer took the idea to the Regimental Trustees, to seek funding and they generously agreed wholeheartedly with the idea.  We then began to design what would be a fitting lasting memorial for us as a Regiment.  We toyed with the idea of having the names of our fallen inscribed on the stone but decided a regiment with a full and eventful history like ours this would be a huge task and one that wouldn’t be cost effective or able to fit on the slate.

The Warrant Officer fraternity put forward 3 designs and it was decided to settle on a slate with our Regimental Crest and the words engraved either side would be ones known by all soldiers from every generation, the poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon - They Shall Grow Not Old…….

Keen to enhance our Welsh heritage, we decided it was important to have the wording in Welsh as well as English and our design was born.

Obviously COVID-19 influenced the production but the small company from the welsh town had the piece blown out of the mountain and on the table in a matter of days. The process started with 3 of the edges being straightened with a giant slate saw, the front was smoothed by hand and this gave the perfectly flat surface that the design could be sandblasted onto. Once proofread the design was stuck on and the sandblasting took a full 3 days work. Concurrently on the other side of the workshop the completely square steps and sills were being created.  These would act as a plinth to box in the design and complete the perfect grey colour.

stone
Stencil, Sandblast and painting the detail

After 3 weeks work the stone was ready and was delivered on the 18th of September, 2 days later it was fully installed and cleaned ready for all to see.  Spotlights will be fitted in due course which will ensure that the first thing that catches your eye on entering our home is our memorial, a fitting 2 ton lump of Welsh slate detailing not only our Welsh heritage but also a solid and permanent feature in our identity that will outlive us all.

stone
Final masterpiece, the Welsh Guards Memorial Stone in place.