Chief of Defence People breaks ground on a new tribute to NAAFI personnel at the National Memorial Arboretum

Published on: Mon, 07/06/2021 - 08:44

Breaking ground for the NAAFI Memorial

On 4 June at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, Lt Gen James Swift, Chief of Defence People, broke ground for the new Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) memorial. The memorial commemorates the more than 550 NAAFI personnel who died during the Second World War and recognises the ongoing contribution of NAAFI uniformed branches on land, both at home and overseas, and with the Royal Navy onboard HM Naval Ships.

NAAFI was established by the British Government in 1920 to run the recreational establishments needed by the Armed Forces, and to provide goods to servicemen and their families. At the outbreak of the Second World War NAAFI grew exponentially with the number of employees peaking at 110,000, managing nearly 10,000 trading outlets. Post the Second World War, NAAFI rescaled its operations but has continued to support British Armed Forces at home and abroad, including during the conflicts in The Falklands, the two Gulf Wars and Afghanistan amongst many others. Today NAAFI operates in far fewer locations but is present in Germany, Gibraltar, Brunei, the South Atlantic Islands and onboard HM Ships, providing convenience and a ‘taste of home’ to Armed Forces personnel and their families overseas.

Forming part of the NAAFI’s centenary celebrations, the memorial was instigated by the Naval Canteen Service (NCS)/Expeditionary Force Institutes(EFI) Association (NEA). The Association has worked with stonemason Graeme Mitcheson to create a design carved from sandstone featuring a glazed full-colour NAAFI crest which will be installed at the Arboretum ahead of a planned dedication ceremony in October.

“NAAFI is central to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces welfare both through the service we provide and the essential contribution of the NAAFI Fund,” said Steve Marshall, CEO of NAAFI. “We remain committed to honouring those that gave their lives in Serving the Services.”

"For the last hundred years the NAAFI has been an integral part of the Armed Forces; it has entered the language, defines activities and exudes an aura of home and comfortable relaxation., “ said Lt. Gen (Rtd) Nugee, Chair of NAAFI. “Today, the ground breaking for a memorial to those NAAFI employees who have lost their lives in their service, is a vivid example of how NAAFI, through the dedication of its employees, supports the Armed Forces, whenever and wherever they’re needed.”