The lives and sacrifices of 30 men and women who died while serving in the armed forces were remembered and honoured during a dignified dedication of a new memorial in Bradford.
The names of those from the district who have perished since 1947 have been hand-carved on the Memorial Wall which stands by the city’s war memorial close to the Alhambra Theatre.
On Saturday, the Bishop of Bradford led a service organised by Bradford Council and the Royal British Legion to dedicate the wall to the fallen, while relatives, family, friends, dignitaries and members of the public looked on.
Shortly after the City Hall clock struck 11am, the Right Reverend Nick Baines opened the ceremony.
He said: “We meet in the presence of God, to dedicate this memorial to the people of the city and district who have given their lives in the service of our country in conflicts since 1947.
“We recall their sacrifice and we commend to God all who, in bereavement, disability or pain, continue to suffer the consequences of warfare, fighting and terror.”
The Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Major Stan Hardy, then spoke. He said it was an honour to be invited to the “very unique event”
He said: “It’s a sobering thought, but in the 68-and-a-half years since VJ Day in 1945, there’s only one of those years in which a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces has not been killed in action somewhere in the world.
“And over those decades, generations of young men and women have come forward to stand to and to defend this nation and our freedoms. Not all of them volunteers, because in the 1940s, 1950s and early ’60s, many of the young men who died were actually National Service men.
“Seventeen, 18 and 19 and 20-year-old young men who were doing their compulsory military service – old enough to fight and die for their countries, but in those days, not old enough to vote.”
He praised the skill, professionalism and courage of those who face risks and dangers “which the rest of us couldn’t conceive”.
Addressing relatives of those whose names are inscribed on the wall, he said: “To you these names are those with whom you lived and loved and no doubt had the odd disagreement with. You bear your loss with great dignity and the pride you feel for your lost loved one is fully justified. We cannot share your pain, but please permit us to share your pride.”
The emotional service included a prayer of dedication and Act of Remembrance when the names of the 30 were read out.
The Memorial Wall honours deaths from 1951 to 2012, but for all of the relatives and friends present on Saturday, the pain that each tragedy brought was still raw.
Many were tearful as the names were said aloud before The Last Post marked the start of a two-minute silence, when veterans stood tall and saluted and seven Standards representing local organisations were lowered.
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Khadim Hussain, the Reverend Canon Sam Corley, Canon Precentor at Bradford Cathedral, MPs, senior councillors and police officers and the High Sheriff of West Yorkshire Virginia Lloyd were among those attending.
War widow Wendy Rayner, of Odsal, whose husband Sergeant Peter Rayner, 34, was killed in Afghanistan in September 2010, approached the Council three years ago to create a new memorial.
She thanked the Royal British Legion and former Bradford Council leader Ian Greenwood for their support.
Mrs Rayner, 42, said: “The British Legion and all the people from there have been fantastic. We’ve all sort of stuck together and they helped with the plans.
“There needs to be a memorial in Bradford city centre so people can recognise the sacrifices families have made and lives that have been lost.”
Mrs Rayner was accompanied by Sgt Rayner’s parents, Peter, 62, and Bernadette, 57.
His mother said: “The emotions it’s dragged up today are absolutely unbelievable.”
Referring to the large crowd gathered, she said: “I’m proud to be a Bradfordian and proud of the people of Bradford and the Legion. They deserve all of this. They’ve campaigned hard for it.”
The president of the Bradford Royal British Legion, James Hargreaves, 93, said: “Wendy was the first one we dealt with. She’s been a good lass and what bit of help we’ve been able to give her, she’s been very grateful for.
“It [the service] was very good. It was long due was that. It’s been talked about for a long, long time.”
Councillor Andrew Thornton, the Council’s executive member for environment and sport, said: “I think it’s been a really good turnout and it’s great to see people come to honour their service men.”
The roll of honour:
Fus Robert Michael Keenan, 1951
Pte Ronald Sugden, 1951
Mne Frank Jennings, 1954
Sig Harry Best Parkinson, 1954
Bdsm Geoffrey Fletcher Evans, 1955
LCpl George Arnold Todd, 1955
Pte Michael James Hindle, 1956
Pte Richard Hudson, 1956
Mne David Glyn Whitham, 1958
Mne Fred Stewart Powell, 1962
Lt Bruce Brown, 1965
Tpr Michael Patrick Lawlor, 1966
Dvr Laurence Jubb, 1972
Cpt John Haddow Young, 1972
Tpr Geoffrey Knipe, 1972
LCpl Colin Harker, 1972
2 Lt Howard Ralph Fawley, 1974
Pte Louis William Carroll, 1974
Gnr Keith Bates, 1974
Lbdr Kevin Mark Waller, 1982
Cpl Ian Metcalfe, 1988
Pte Simon Jonathon Beetham, 1988
Pte Alison Marie Croft, 2002
Sgt Steven Mark Roberts, 2003
Flt Lt David Kevin Stead, 2005
Sgt Christian Ian Hickey, 2005
Spr Jordan Patrick Rossi, 2009
Sgt Peter Anthony Rayner, 2010
Pte Martin Simon George Bell, 2011
Pte Christopher Kershaw, 2012