REASON FOR A MEMORIAL
It is now over 12 years since The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment left the Army’s order of battle and whilst a number of plaques and other mementoes have been unveiled there is no formal memorial to reflect the Regiment’s 300 years of loyal and conspicuous service to the Crown. The time is now right for such a memorial: if we who served in ‘The Dukes’ do not grasp this opportunity then there will be no lasting memorial, thereby relegating the Regiment to a footnote in the history books.
The purpose of the memorial is far greater than simply a statement that the Regiment existed and that ‘we were different’. The memorial will honour all those ‘Dukes’ who gave their lives; acknowledge all those who served in all battalions and, importantly, the families that supported those men; it will commemorate our heritage, and it will recognise the county from which the majority came. Furthermore, the memorial will be situated in the very heart of Halifax, home to the Regiment for over 200 years, and which still views ‘The Dukes’ as its regiment. This project has the wholehearted support of Calderdale Council which will be key to helping look after its legacy.
We do not underestimate the challenge we have set ourselves in raising the required funds to bring this vision of a memorial to reality. His Grace The Duke of Wellington has kindly agreed to be the Patron of this appeal and our Vice Patrons are General Sir Charles Huxtable, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, Brigadier W R Mundell, Colonel John Barkshire and Colonel Charles Dent.
I am conscious that we are all inundated with requests for money from all sorts of organisations but, for everyone within ‘The Dukes’ family, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to support the placing of a fitting memorial to the Regiment right in the heart of our historic home.
SHORT HISTORY OF THE REGIMENT
In 1702 the Earl of Huntingdon was authorised to raise a new regiment in order to take part in the War of The Spanish Succession. In 1751 regiments were given numbers and the Regiment was from that time known as the 33rd Foot. In 1782 the Regiment’s title was changed to 33rd (or 1st Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment thereby formalising the association with the West Riding. In 1787 the 76th Regiment of Foot was raised for service in India and it was into this Regiment that the young Arthur Wellesley was first commissioned. He later purchased his majority in the 33rd Foot and subsequently commanded that Regiment serving with them in the Netherlands and India. He succeeded as Colonel in 1806. In 1853, a year after The Great Duke’s death, the title of the Regiment was changed to 33rd (or The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment). In 1881 the 33rd and 76th were formally linked to become the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding).
The Regiment served in all major campaigns of the 19th century but it was the First World War that saw the greatest increase in numbers, as during that conflict a total of 24 battalions were raised. During the Second World War battalions of the Regiment took part in the campaigns of Dunkirk, North West Europe, North Africa, Italy and Burma.
In 1948 the two regular battalions were amalgamated into the 1st Battalion since when it has fought in Korea, Cyprus and completed numerous tours in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. The last operational tours undertaken by the Battalion were to Iraq in 2003 and 2005.
The Territorial Force, formed in 1908, drew its men from distinct parts of the regimental recruiting area: the 4th Battalion from the Halifax, the 5th Battalion form Huddersfield, the 6th Battalion from Skipton, and the 7th Battalion from the Colne Valley. In the Great War, the Regiment lost over 8,000 men. During the Second World War, the TA again played its full part in the hostilities.
THE DESIGN OF THE MEMORIAL
The Regimental Memorial sculpture by world-renowned sculptor Andrew Sinclair MRBS is designed to reflect the 300-year history of the Regiment. The three main figures are soldiers from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, placed as if on steps carved into a rock edifice: the first two are communicating with each other, whilst the contemporary soldier stands guard at the top. They are connected by a golden thread which represents the formation of the Regiment to its final amalgamation. The ‘rock edifice’ serves as a bas-relief which symbolically reflects all that is important to the Regiment: the service of the 76th Foot in India (the Honorary Colours), the sacrifices made during WW1 represented by an officer leaping out of the trenches, the support provided by the families of those who served, the importance to the Regiment of the game of rugby, the link with the Duke of Wellington, and finally the regimental emblems and motto.The Memorial will stand on a plinth of Yorkshire stone and will be some 15 feet in height. The central part will be cast in phosphor bronze that allows intricate detail and beautiful patination to be incorporated.
In order to bring the Memorial to reality, we need to raise £225,000. This we recognise as a genuine challenge but, after only 6 months, we have already raised some £130,000 which has been achieved by means of a direct appeal to the Regimental family along with 2 fund-raising events held in London. The second part of the fundraising campaign, and our focus now, will centre on Yorkshire where we will be holding various events. Most importantly we will be looking at finding all those who were associated with the Regiment, either in business or as a family member and who would like their name as a donor to be recorded in a leather-bound book that will be placed in Bankfield, as a final memento of this appeal. There will be other events organised so please check on the website but the principal fundraising event in the County will be held on Friday 2nd November 2018 in Halifax at The Arches, Dean Clough.