A new memorial unveiled in Staffordshire to those who turned tide of WW2 in Africa

  • A new memorial for the armoured division, known as the Desert Rats, has been unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Past and present members of the brigade, which has its roots in Norfolk but is now based in Rutland, gathered to remember those who served with the armoured division on Sunday (23 October).

The new memorial is in two parts. One part features a steel jerboa, the emblem of the Desert Rats.

It sits on a plinth which has been carved with a sand motif, with the words Desert Rats engraved on.

The steel of the jerboa will rust with time and run and stain the stone plinth, symbolising the blood spilt in battle.

The second part of the memorial is a stone signpost.  It was first erected in Berlin and documents the division's journey during the Second World War.

In recent years it has been at Sandhurst but has been moved to the Arboretum in Staffordshire where the public are able to see it.

Desert Rat veterans helped to carve the plinth and said there was a 'bit of pressure' on the carving as one small mistake could mean starting again.

Credit: ITV News

Col. Nick Barton said was thrilled with the outcome, telling ITV News Central: "I think it's a great memorial to those who have gone before us and those who  will come in the future but also being in this location, this special location in the UK,  it's a real honour  to be a part of it."

The jerboa on the memorial faces El Alamein in Eygpt, the site of the division's most famous battle.

The Second Battle of El Alamein began on the 23rd October 1942, so the dedication of the new memorial was held on the 80th anniversary.

Veterans of the Desert Rats were there to see the dedication, as were members of the current brigade.

Col Jaishan Mahan Deputy Commander Reserves, 7th Brigade said: "We're very acutely aware that we stand on the shoulders of giants and it's really important that we honour and remember those who have come before us.

Especially those who have made sacrifices, and in some cases the ultimate sacrifice."

Also among the congregation were two service veterans from Norfolk who raised more than £11,000 towards the cost of the memorial.

They did it by doing collections at supermarkets, often for. hours at a time.