News story

Camp Bastion troops say farewell to memorial wall

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

British sailors, soldiers and airmen have conducted a poignant vigil to mark the return of Camp Bastion's memorial wall to the UK.

The memorial bears the names of all 453 UK personnel who have died on operations in Afghanistan and has been the focus for commemoration and reflection since it was erected.

Following the vigil ceremony last weekend it will be transported to the National Memorial Arboretum as the drawdown of UK combat operations nears its conclusion.

In a speech at the ceremony Brigadier Rob Thomson, the most senior UK military officer in Helmand province and Deputy Commander of Regional Command (Southwest), reflected on the sacrifice of British troops and those of other nations.

A name plaque is taken down from the memorial wall
A name plaque is taken down from the memorial wall [Picture: Corporal Mark Larner, Crown copyright]

He said:

We all have very particular, personal and often painful memories of the loss that has been felt across all 3 of our services.

The memorial wall has become a bastion of our collective memory of those who we have lost during this campaign.

It’s rightful and timely transfer from this land to ours will ensure that the memories of a foreign field are brought home in the right way and will endure for future generations.

A name plaque from the memorial wall is packed away for transportation
A name plaque from the memorial wall is packed away for transportation [Picture: Corporal Mark Larner, Crown copyright]

He also spoke about the progress that has been made possible by the commitment of the UK and coalition partners:

We have travelled some very hard yards in delivering this campaign but the achievements, delivered alongside our allies, the government of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Security Forces, are clear.

We leave behind a country that is no longer a haven for international terrorism. The progress made is tangible for ordinary Afghan people. They can look to a future of increasing hope and opportunity.

The deconstruction and repatriation of the memorial wall is the latest milestone as UK troops prepare to conclude combat operations at the end of this year.

The UK will then focus on continuing to support the Afghan National Army Officer Academy and the Afghan security ministries, with a small number of troops remaining in the country to provide force protection to UK elements.