UK

NAAFI Memorial To Honour 550 Who Died Supporting Military Personnel

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for a new memorial, which will honour the 550 members who lost their lives while working in the NAAFI.

A groundbreaking ceremony has taken place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, to honour the 550 members who lost their lives while working in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI).

The NAAFI was established by the British Government in 1921 when the Expeditionary Force Canteens and the Navy and Army Canteen Board were combined to run the recreational establishments and sell goods to servicemen and their families.

Now, 100 years later members of the Armed Forces and the public are taking the first steps to creating a lasting legacy in their name.

Chair of the NAAFI board, Lieutenant General (Ret'd) Richard Nugee, explained why it is so important that the organisation's past members are honoured.

"We had a NAAFI in Afghanistan, in Helmand, in Bastion, and they were subject to exactly the same threats as everybody else in that camp," he said.

"So they went through the same threats from the Second World War and when they formed in 1921 all the way to the end.

"They're not at the back. They're part of not the frontline but part of the camps and everything that are on the frontline.

NAAFI is responsible for providing British goods and conveniences to serving personnel.

"It's just worth people knowing that actually they're prepared to serve, they're prepared to put their life on the line to support the Armed Forces, not by fighting, but actually by supporting them."

For members of the Armed Forces serving abroad or on board Royal Navy vessels he added that the NAAFI allows them to have that "morale boost" that comes with a taste of home.

To open the ceremony, Lieutenant General James Swift, the Chief of Defence People, was in attendance.

He said it was "really special" to be able to take part and "to mark the amazing commitment by NAAFI over the last 100 years" and "particularly the people in the NAAFI".

He said: "The NAAFI have always been the people that little bit of home to where we've been, so serving in Germany, of course it's a first world country, you can get almost everything you wanted, but just not some of those things that you remember from home.

"The NAAFI will provide those and so many more facilities than just that.

"And, of course, for those at sea they provide the naval canteen service which is essential to morale on board." 

The new memorial is set to be installed by October this year.