A MEMORIAL commemorating hundreds of troops who died overseas was unveiled in a moving ceremony.

Veterans and residents gathered at St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Headington as Oxfordshire’s Lord Lieutenant Tim Stevenson unveiled a new plaque for 457 troops who were repatriated to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The plaque is situated behind hundreds of daffodils planted as a living memorial to those who lost their lives.

Oxford Mail:

During the conflict in the Middle East, the 457 troops who lost their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts were repatriated and taken to the JR for post mortem examinations.

On each occasion veterans gathered in Headley Way to form a guard of honour at the entrance of the hospital to pay tribute when troops were repatriated. The area of the church became known as The Final Turn, due to its location on the repatriation route.

When the conflict ended and the repatriations stopped, some veterans came together to ensure those who died were not forgotten. 

Oxford Mail:

Brian Crossin, 81, who served in the Royal Air Force Police in the 1950s, said:“We used to come to all the repatriations and when the troops came out of Afghanistan they stopped.

“It occurred to me that it would be a shame if all those soldiers who came through here were forgotten.

“So we planned this living memorial. We contacted the John Radcliffe Hospital and they were absolutely wonderful.

“The flowers will now come up every year and will be a living memorial to those fallen troops.”

Oxford Mail:

About 100 people gathered at the church as the plaque was unveiled at 11am.

Before unveiling the plaque, Mr Stevenson said: “Over a long nine years, members of the British armed forces killed on active service in Iraq and Afghanistan had the final stage of their final journey here at Final Turn.

“It is my pleasure to unveil this plaque as a mark of respect for the 457 individuals who lost their lives in the service of their country.”

Oxford Mail:

The plaque is on land owned by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who facilitated the installation and will look after the daffodils.