Dedication day dawned breezy, cloudy, but dry, which was of great relief to the Trustees, as the previous few days had seen high winds and heavy rain; there had been a genuine anxiety that the celebration of two years of hard work in the planning and construction of the memorial would be compromised.
What was really heart-warming to the Trustees and unexpected, a large numbers of ex-boys arrived to bear witness to the unveiling and dedication of the memorial. The Trustees believed from the very beginning the planned memorial would not only be a fitting tribute to “The Army Apprentice”, but would also be an elegant structure in it’s own right that others would wish to emulate.
This view was endorsed by the spontaneous audible gasp and applause made by the congregation when the stunning beauty of the monolith was unveiled.
Prior to the dedication day, Anthony Church (TeeCee), Arborfield 55A, the author of the centre circle poem, composed a few verses about the memorial and a few lines have been extracted and are appropriate for the final word on this special day.
This circle of stone tells of ‘Boy’s Schools’, now flown into history’s yellowing pages,
Yet a building alone, whether timber or stone, is just an inanimate part
Of a fine learning place; it was the youngsters who gave it heart and embraced the real soul.
But in the beginning, ere the losing and winning that all in a martial life know,
a solid foundation was laid by instruction in how to live life, to grow
into maturity, to learn of truth, loyalty, and, above all, of honour, fair play.
Lessons that turned those boys into men, to whom there’s a debt we can never repay.
(by Tee Cee)
Comments from the visitors
Re: Army Apprentices Memorial
by TeeCee55A » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:55 pm
Having just returned from the dedication ceremony of the Memorial, I have to say that, in common with the whole of this project from it’s inception, the whole operation went like clockwork, all performed flawlessly, and if there were any problems, they were not apparent. The weather held off, apart from a few drops near the end, causing umbrellas to go up for just a couple of minutes.
All in all, a splendid and moving day in which our Rev Bev and the two other ex boy Revs did the whole ceremony great justice.
The Memorial, after being unveiled by Maj. Gen. Gerry Berragan was even more impressive than we envisaged, and, dare I say, outshone the adjacent REME memorial, a real credit to all those who had a hand in its inception.
Our Max was there with his trusty camera as always, and we can be assured of some more of his excellent pics. As was mentioned in the earlier resumes, three or four video cameras operated by another of our ex boys was there to record the event, who tells me that after editing, the DVD will be available some time in October – watch the AANM website for details.
A rather brief description at this stage, but no doubt others will elaborate.
I would also lie to take this opportunity to relate the thoughts and, if you like, the inspiration that motivated me to write this lines and was fortunate to have been accepted to grace the centre of the Memorial.
With the wisdom and experience of advancing years, we now appreciate how privileged we were to spend three of our most formative years in the almost exclusive company of our peers for 24 hours of every day.
This gave us a unique bonding experience which was almost certainly unparalleled even in other branches of the armed forces, or ‘man’s service’, and now, regrettably, no longer exists.
Constrained by the rigours of military discipline to which we were daily subjected, our lives were far more ordered, and we were, dare I say, better behaved (in general!) as a result.
Because we were at the most impressionable age, the highs and lows of those days are imprinted indelibly in our minds, and in our spirit of youthful optimism, it is the highs that we now recall most fondly.
So this verse is an attempt to sum up our youthful outlook on life, reflecting the comradeship and zest for living which we shared on the threshold of our military careers.
In these later years, as we now look back and reflect on those times, it is with even more clarity that we realize how very lucky we were.
As the wheel of time revolves, taking with it those friends that we considered indestructible, the verse pays tribute to those with whom we shared those memorable experiences, and also to the many others who were not of our particular time, but still very much our brothers in spirit.
By smokey Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:08 pm
I wish to add to the account given by TC of the Dedication Ceremony at the Memorial. As a 78 year old, I am entitled to have cynical outlook on life. However, on this occasion I was impressed. Our Memorial is distinctive , in my opinion, when compared to other memorials. The actual Memorial when I first gazed upon it, struck me as having that distinctive element of geometry, in the stonework, but incorporating an overall artistic design, that bound it all together. That is the Arborfield – Sapper draughtsman, in me, coming out.
We should all be proud that the concept of a Memorial originated from ex-Apprentice boys, the design was approved by ex-boys and the finance was raised by ex-boys. The organising committee members were all ex- Apprentices. The Memorial is testimony to their collective good judgement & decision making.
I am aware that all this was achieved by their perseverance to get the task completed. I am know, that much travelling to meetings and being away from home was experiencedby the committee. I became aware of this, over time, from the two 49er’s on the Committee. We owe much to the Committee for the reality of this prestigous monument.
The Service & Ceremony of Dedication, was again an event that comprised participants who were all former boy-Apprentices. My wife, Doreen was impressed, that this was so. I would never have thought from my youthful & robust introduction to Army life, that I would witness a service, in my advancing years, conducted by three clergymen, all former Army Apprentices. In the 40’s & 50’s the ‘cult of youth’ never existed, we would be reminded, many times, that we had “Done nothing, seen nothing & were capable of nothing”.
The conduct of the Service proved that over the years, Army boy’s service contained many diverse talents waiting to be developed.The Service was sensitive to the occasion, the Rev Canon. Bev John (Arborfield) incorporated in his sermon an example of barrack room life where-by one learned to get-on with others, many from varied backgrounds & abilities. Thus, we learnt the basics of community living.
Many of us learnt early in life much that was never written. Such lessons stayed with us, throughout our remaining years of Army service, maybe in the higher ranks of the Army or in industry, commerce or other forms of service, either in Government or local government. Incidentally, I informed, Doreen, that TeeCee was the Bard of Arborfield, hence his writings are inscribed on the Memorial. Again she was most impressed.
With all the media comment on the deficiencies of education in our school systems, maybe the Education Minister might learn something from the Army Apprentice Schools/College history. I feel what we experienced, might have lessons for our current Society, with all its problems. Along the way, something was right & was proved to be successful in our experiences of life. That’s my thoughts!
Pete’ Henry, 49B.
Dedication Day Video available
A full video record of the days activities has been produced by VIDEOS 4 ALL, a video production company run by Barry Hunter and his wife Mary, based in Newton Abbott, Devon. Barry is well versed in the ways of Army Apprentices, being ex Chepstow.
The DVD Video can be ordered from Barry, using the order form printed out from this PDF file link below.
The production cost, including the many hours editing, are being undertaken without charge by Barry Hunter as a contribution to the AANM. A charge at cost, of producing the DVD, packing and post is £8.50. Cheques should be made payable to “Videos for all Occasions” and sent together with the order form to Videos4all, 3 Southey Drive, Kinkerswell, Newton Abbot, South Devon, TQ12 5HL. Your completed DVD will be despatched out to you shortly.