Arboretum prepares to commemorate RAF centenary

The National Memorial Arboretum, near Lichfield in Staffordshire, will hold events and activities next year commemorating 100 years of the Royal Air Force in 2018.

With about 30,000 maturing trees and more than 300 significant memorials, the venue is the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance and home to the nationally-important Armed Forces Memorial.

Several memorials commemorate the RAF, including the Royal Air Forces Association Remembrance Garden, featuring the RAF Association emblem: a stainless-steel eagle sitting on top of a globe (pictured).

Opened by HRH The Princess Royal in September 2009, it was the first national remembrance garden for all those who have served in the RAF and Commonwealth air forces.

Other RAF memorials at the National Memorial Arboretum include the Royal Air Force Halton Apprentices Memorial Garden; the Royal Air Force Regiment’s Memorial Garden; the Royal Air Force Wood; the blue brick plinth and memorial plaque of the Royal Air Force Cranwell Apprentices; the stone monolith of the Royal Air Force Boy Entrants; a memorial to RAF Locking; a bench and plinth in tribute to the Royal Air Force Servicing Commando and Tactical Supply Wing Association; a collection of silver birch trees planted in the shape of an eagle’s wing in honour of the Royal Air Force Wing; and a memorial to the Royal Air Force Police.

The centrepiece Armed Forces Memorial, meanwhile, commemorates the service men and women of the British Armed Forces who have been killed while on duty, died in operational theatre, or been targeted by terrorists since the end of the Second World War.

The new £15.7 million Remembrance Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum was officially launched in March 2017, and is now expected to welcome 500,000 visitors a year.

• The Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford, Shropshire, will also mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF next year.

More than 70 aircraft of international importance are housed in three wartime hangars and the National Cold War Exhibition.

For 2018, new exhibitions will explore the first 100 years of the RAF and new aircraft displays will enable the RAF’s story to be more comprehensively represented to museum audiences in the Midlands.

Cosford will be the focus of ‘My RAF Story’, which will be the largest collection of publicly sourced RAF stories.