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urban ashes environment

How permanent is permanent – when a scattering ashes location changes use

Bill Priddy scattered the ashes of son Will at the Royal Citadel in Plymouth, he chose to scatter his son’s ashes at that spot as his son was based there at the time of his death. Will – a veteran of one tour of Iraq – died in 2005 in a car crash on Salisbury Plain.

However, Bill is now regretting the decision since he learnt that this historic building is being sold off by the Ministry of Defence and the commando regiment are moving out.

And whilst the fate of the building is uncertain there is growing speculation that it could be sold for development. Although there is a desire from many to turn the Citadel into a museum, this is far from certain.

Mr Priddy who placed a memorial bench there for his son says it is “heart-wrenching” the Citadel will no longer be the home of his son’s “beloved” regiment.

He said: “For it to suddenly lose that connection would be a travesty.

“The thought that it could become yucky up-market apartments, or something similar, is quite heart-wrenching.

“He could be buried under God knows what.”

“It isn’t just Will whose ashes are scattered up there, there would have been many others over the years, so I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

“It was a big decision we made as a family to have his resting place there, and at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.”

My heart goes out to Mr Priddy, it can’t seem fair and he must feel so powerless too. It does raise the question about scattering in an urban environment, places like the citadel and our urban parks seem so untouchable, they have ‘always’ been there and they always will. Clearly this I not the case and then are we to think that cemeteries are the only place that can offer this degree of surety? Maybe, although even cemeteries get moved or built over – Crossrail in London is one example. So, what is permanent, beaches are not, nature moves cliffs and shores, maybe that is the point  – thing change, but somehow it seems better when nature does it (or maybe that it just me). Whilst I have no words that will bring cheer to Mr Priddy it might be an idea yet to decide to consider more poignant rural / protected locations, they aren’t going to knock down Tintagel Castle to build an NCP car park for example…

Original story ://

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portsmouth commitall

Royal Naval Ashes Committal: Portsmouth

This is guidance for the Portsmouth Service.

Arrangements can be made for a ceremony, which includes a short religious service to be carried out at Spithead Portsmouth at a point near to Spitbank Fort. Committals are conducted by a Naval Chaplain. Usually more than one committal is carried out per trip.

Due to high security at a naval base and availability, you should allow a reasonable amount of time to make arrangements.

The base is operational military establishment and therefore there should be understanding that operational demands and site security need to take precedence. And whilst every effort is made to ensure that the committal takes place on the agreed date, sometimes bad weather or a very poor sea-state means we are forced to cancel. They will attempt to notify you in advance should this occur.

On rare occasions we may get out of the harbour only to find that the sea state makes the committal impossible. In which case it is our custom to return and offer a short service at St Ann’s Church and reschedule the committal to a later date.

You may choose to order a Royal Naval Committal Urn

Contact details:

Telephone – 02392 723000  – ask to be put through to the chaplaincy


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ashes burial at sea classic poems

A sailor’s farewell poem: Crossing the Bar

If you are looking for words or verse for ash scattering ceremony fit for an old sailor, then you could worse than consider the classic poem Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Crossing the Bar


Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,
   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.
   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;
   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.
To a arrange a committal service by the Royal Navy – Royal Navy Committal
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royal navy commital

Naval Order of Service

It may be you want to scatter the ashes of a loved one at sea and that person had a naval career. And whilst you would like reference to their service in the the Royal or Merchant Navy it may not be appropriate to use the Navy’s chaplaincy service. There maybe many reasons for this: you want the loved one closer to home, you wish to scatter husband and wife together and only one was naval personal, you want to conduct the service yourself.

The Chaplaincy have kindly shared their order of service with us, it has two versions one is for a service at their local church if the sea is too rough to perform the committal.

Here is the link: Royal Navy Order of Service

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royal navy ashes service

A Bible reading suitable for an old sailor

We have recently been in touch with the naval chaplaincy at Portsmouth and they have been extremely helpful. We explained that many people may wish to be to have their ashes scattered in the same place as their loved one and still have reference to their career with either Royal or Merchant Navy.

We asked what reading from they used during the committal, they said:

The reading we use is Ps 107 which reminds us that despite the storms of life we make it into a safe haven at the end of our life.

A reading from Psalm 107

Those who go down to the sea in ships and ply their trade in great waters, these have seen the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. For at his word the stormy wind arose and lifted up the waves of the sea. They were carried up to the heavens and down again to the deep; their soul melted away in their peril. They reeled and staggered like a drunkard and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were calmed. Then were they glad because they were at rest, and he brought them to the haven they desired.

Which, as one might imagine, seems rather appropriate.

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ashes service uk

Committal of Ashes to the Sea by the Royal Navy

The Naval Chaplaincy Service carries out Committals at Sea Ceremonies for all former Service personnel.

The Royal Naval Chaplaincy Service undertakes committals of ashes at sea from our Base Ports in Scotland on the Clyde (Faslane), Plymouth (Devonport) and Portsmouth.

There is no charge for the committal.

Eligibility is determined on a case by case basis, the decreased should be: 

  • Royal Navy Personnel.
  • There’s no length of service required, but they do need a short Service History and Service Number for checking with the records. 
  • Different bases have different eligibility.

Portsmouth handles initial enquiries for other two bases, contact details:

Telephone – 02392 723000  – ask to be put through to the chaplaincy


Ash containers / urn?

We make urns to the Royal Nays specification: Royal Navy Committal Urn, we are lead to believe however the Chaplaincy if cost is an impediment they would accept these water urns. You are not required to purchase these through Scattering Ashes, your Funeral Director may be able to assist, although we are we are happy to supply them should you wish.

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military bespoke urn tattooing

Bespoke Wooden Urn Tattoos: Insignia, designs or inscriptions

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Bespoke Urn Tattoo or Pyrography

Bespoke Urn Tattoo. We have found a talented pyrographic artist who can tattoo any design onto a handmade wooden urn.

Would you like a completely bespoke design, motif or insignia on your wooden urn?

Scattering Ashes already offers a range of beautiful handmade wooden urns, made here in Devon. Now, we are able to offer a service that adds a design personal to you. They are created by an extremely skilled artisan who uses a process called pyrography or ‘wood tattooing’. The design is burnt into the wood with a hand tool and then coloured, creating unique and stunning results.

The example here is of a military insignia, although the choice of design is entirely up to you. This was created on our Haytor – natural wood urn

Please fill in the form below the pictures for an quote regarding delivery time and and cost.


bespoke urn tattoo wood memorial cremation bespoke urn tattoo wood memorial cremation


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mod ashes casket

An urn for an old Sailor and the MODs exasperating institutionalised culture of secrecy: Part 3 the final episode

mod ashes casket


This is the final episode of the mini-series. The story so far – I want the measurements for a box. The Ministry of Defence have said I can’t have it, actually when you put it like that it this doesn’t sound very interesting does it? Okay. This is a story about one mans valiant attempt to take on the giants of government, seeking the truth from the mysterious and dark world of the Ministry of Defence in the hope that others may have a more dignified final ceremony … (say this in an american Hollywood voice-over style for more effect).

So here is Part 1 and Part 2

After the last set back I thought I would try one last-ditch attempt.


Dear Sirs

Sorry to sound impersonal there was no signatory to the letter. I don’t wish to complain, I am however a little perplexed. I don’t doubt you are correct that you are within your rights not allow access to a paragraph, even though letting me know would help members of the armed forces satisfy the wishes of armed forces – so the MODs approach seems somehow odd? Just because you can say no does not mean you should.
I am fairly au fait* with FOI – isn’t the presumption to give people the information if you can? I am now intrigued – does paragraph contain some national secret that the nation needs to be protected from. Or is it only paper copy and it would be inconvenient and time consuming to send me. I would be willing to come and read it.
How about I offer to make a donation to the Royal Navy Benevolent Fund if you help me? Hopefully that is not considered bribery.
So I shall try one last plea – Please let me have the text from the paragraph. 
Your humble servant


* I spelt this wrong in my original email and now trying to cover up my ignorance.

Anyway you will see my tone has become a bit less reverent although I hope not rude in anyway.

I got the following response.


Richard Martin

Scattering Ashes

14 January 2014

Dear Mr Martin,

Thank you for your email of 9 January 2014 regarding our response to your FOI request (FOI 18-112013-135322-002
It is regretful that the response to your FOI request has not met your expectations. However your most recent email indicates

to me a misunderstanding of the process that the MOD instigates on the loss of a Serviceman or woman.

I hope to clarify this herewith. 

As I explained in my first letter to you, when an individual dies during their Service, they are provided
with a military funeral (or cremation) if their next-of-kin (NOK) indicates a desire for such. A military funeral is paid for by the MOD and follows specific rules as set out Volume 2 of Joint Service Publication (JSP) 751. If the NOK prefers to have a private (non military)  funeral or cremation, they are free to do so, and the MOD will offer assistance, including financial support for this, also stipulated in JSP751. A grieving family who wished to make use of the services provided by your company for a private ceremony would have the freedom of choice to do so. 

The NOK and family are provided with a serving, commissioned ‘Visiting Officer’ (VO) to help them with these arrangements, and therefore have access to the advice they might need. The VO has appropriate training and ready access to JSP751, so I do not fully follow your line that, were we able, to provide you with information contained in the JSP it would better ‘satisfy the wishes of the armed forces’. This, when compared to a fully trained and briefed VO (who would most likely be familiar with the area the deceased was posted to).

I turn now to our advice that JSP751 is exempt for release under the FOI Act 2000. This document remains at a restricted level due to the sensitivity of the subject and is kept under constant review;  government policy influences, and may be influenced by, the JSP in question. The FOIA does not require us to justify our refusal to release or declassify the document further.

Should you wish to make a contribution to a defence charity, that choice is yours and whichever one you were to choose would be undoubtedly grateful; however, it will have no bearing on nor alter the advice provided to you.

Yours sincerely,
Defence Personnel Secretariat


Oh – Oh well never mind. At this point, slightly exasperated, I decided to throw in the towel.



Thank you very much for again taking the trouble to write to me and whilst I may disagree with what you are saying your time is genuinely appreciated.
I think will shall leave it there, I don’t think it right to take up more officials time in dealing with this issue.
Death is a important matter and it it is clear that you take the welfare of ex-service personnel very seriously.
I hope perhaps that I may yet get to find out what I am after, as I still strongly feel it bring benefit and comfort to those in need. Although I see now clearly this is not the route.
Kind regards
So is there a moral to the story, perhaps that we say we are an open society, but don’t test it or scratch the surface. Trouble is here, you are only getting my biased take on it.  I am sure the gentlemen responding would look at this from an entirely different prism perhaps no less valid than my own.
Still I was only after the dimensions of a box, a reasonable enough request isn’t it?
However if you do read this and access to the paragraph from this document I would like to let people know …
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bloody red tape

An urn for an old Sailor and the MODs exasperating institutionalised culture of secrecy: Part 2

bloody red tape

Hello, last week I posted the start of a small saga in relation to me trying to find the specification for urns the Royal Navy need for committals at sea. Here is the post. I split it into three parts to make a bit of a story of it – also it goes on a bit and I didn’t want to bore you. Anyway their initial response to request was a a bit of a curates egg, please bear in mind that all I am after is the dimension of a box, not the servicing timetable for Trident submarines, so I try again…


Dear Sirs

Thank you very much for the response to my request for information, I appreciate the effort that has gone into responding. Please understand that I am not complaining, but I would like a little bit more information. My original request asked for a ‘cut and paste’ of the information I required and the response letter I received, whilst very thoughtful, omitted that key information.
I do this as many ex service personnel feel a strong connection to the armed forces but don’t know where to go for information, it is unlikely that many would consider an FOI request the appropriate route to find it, I hope you are able to provide the information so that we help to respect the wishes of ex service personnel.
Kind regards
Richard Martin
That was quite polite and to the point I thought – I got this response…

Mr Richard Martin

Email to:

11 December 2013
Dear Mr Martin,

Thank you for your email of 18 November in which you make the following clarification;

‘I …would like a little bit more information. My original request asked for a ‘cut and paste’ of the 
information I required and the response letter I received, whilst very thoughtful, omitted that key

I am treating your correspondence as a request for information under the Freedom of  Information
Act 2000.

The Joint Service Publication (JSP 751) you request a ‘cut and paste’ from is not in the public
domain as it is a restricted document that is kept under constant review. Section 35 of the FOI Act
exempts information relating to the formation of government policy, ministerial communications,
advice from government legal officers, and the operation of any ministerial private office from
release under the FOI Act. Therefore JSP 751 is exempt from release. The advice contained in our
previous letter to you contained unclassified advice relevant to your request.

With regard to the oak caskets, the individual families choose their casket from the range offered by
their chosen undertaker. The MOD pays for the casket, along with the other costs, if the funeral is
a Service (Publically Funded) funeral. Those who choose to have a private funeral receive a grant
towards the cost.

If you are not satisfied with this response or wish to complain about any aspect of the handling of
your request, then you should contact my office in the first instance. If informal resolution is not
possible and you are still dissatisfied then you may apply for an independent internal review by
contacting the Deputy Chief Information Officer, 2nd Floor, MOD Main Building, Whitehall, SW1A
2HB (e-mail Please note that any request for an internal review must be made
within 40 working days of the date on which the attempt to reach informal resolution has come to an

If you remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you may take your complaint to the
Information Commissioner under the provisions of Section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Please note that the Information Commissioner will not investigate your case until the MOD internal
review process has been completed. Further details of the role and powers of the Information
Commissioner can be found on the Commissioner’s website,

Yours sincerely,

 Defence Personnel Secretariat


It is the dimensions of a box for goodness sake! I do understand that some things need to be kept secret, we entrust this Department with the protection of the Realm – I know. I get it … but please. All we want is to help the people who severed HM forces, to perform a ceremony in the way you prescribe. Or is it me and is their response correct and proportionate (please say no)?

Next week the final episode. I try one last valiant attempt to find the dimensions of the box …

As an aside, I did wonder  if you post anything on this subject get matter – you have a file created on you? So if you are reading this from GCHQ and you fancy telling me what the specification of the box is… Drop the spec in a brown paper envelope in the recycling bin next to me in Reagent’s  Park and say ” Valdimir, do you like soft furnishings, I hear chintz is all the rage this year?”

If I don’t get post the concluding part next week – it wasn’t me who decided to zip myself in the sports holdall..

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bloody mod

An urn for an old Sailor and the MODs exasperating institutionalised culture of secrecy: Part 1

bloody mod

This a story I will tell in three parts and it is the documentation on my conversation with the Ministry of Defence MOD, relating to a printed specification for an urn, although my title is ‘slightly’ leading I wonder if you will share my view?

Halfway through last year I got a call from a Funeral Director asking me for a very specific type of urn, one needed for the interring of ashes for a Royal Navy ceremony. I replied we did a range of water urns ideal for the job some approved by the Navy. However he was after a specific one – he said he had seen a specification and it involved weights on ropes and such things. Rather annoyed with myself I had to admit that I was not aware of such an urn or where one could be found. Although after finishing the call I resolved to get to the bottom of the issue.

So I trawled the internet for some time and I could not find the elusive specification, but I did get lead. All the searches pointed to a paragraph in a MOD document relating to the treatment of service personnel after death. I found this  – Only ashes contained in a suitable casket will be committed at sea. The scattering of ashes not in a casket from ships or aircraft is not permitted under any circumstances. The precise specifications of a suitable committal casket are given in JSP 751, Vol 2, Ch3.

So next step ask the MOD about what they would like urns for their services to look like, simple.

I then searched the MODs website and found three email addresses for Departments they may be appropriate. I then wrote the following email:



I would like to find the source of the following – relating to the specification of ashes caskets for funerals it has been causing my clients some concern and I need your help. It is the reference at the end of the paragraph.

Only ashes contained in a suitable casket will be committed at sea. The scattering of

ashes not in a casket from ships or aircraft is not permitted under any circumstances. The

precise specifications of a suitable committal casket are given in JSP 751, Vol 2, Ch3.





Polite to the point, pretty easy stuff. The email address that got a response from was through the good old Freedom of Information Act.

I got the following response:

Reference: FOI 18-10-2013-151249-009

Richard of Scattering Ashes

Ministry of Defence
Main Building

15 November 2013

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email of 21 October, which has been considered a request for information in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act). Your request has been passed to
this department and I have been asked to respond.

You have requested the following information:
“I would like to find the source of the following ‐ relating to the specification of ashes caskets for funerals it has 
been causing my clients some concern and I need your help. It is the reference at the end of the paragraph. 
Only ashes contained in a suitable casket will be
 committed at sea. The scattering of ashes not in a casket from 
ships or aircraft is not permitted under any circumstances. The precise specifications of a suitable committal 
casket are given in JSP 751, Vol 2, Ch3.” 

A search for the information has now been completed within the Ministry of Defence, and I can
confirm that information in scope of your request is held. Therefore, I can advise that the MOD
places the utmost importance on the way the Services deal with their Casualties. The MOD joint
casualty & compassionate policy and procedures, which are set out in JSP 751 are controlled and
revised where or when necessary by staff within the Directorate Service Personnel Policy.

When a Serviceman or woman dies during their Service, they are provided with a military funeral (or
cremation) if that is what their next-of-kin (NOK) indicates they want, or the family is assisted with a
private service if they do not wish for a military funeral.

Where cremation is carried out at public expense, whether in the UK or overseas, the NOK can
choose to have interment of the ashes in a military / civil cemetery with the site marked by a military
pattern urn plot marker. Alternatively, a casket may be provided and the ashes delivered to the
NOK’s home address or scattered in a garden of remembrance. In such circumstances, an entry
may be paid for in a Book of Remembrance.

Oak caskets are not made to any military specification and are provided by the funeral director.
However, urn markers in UK Military Cemeteries are of a standard type approved by MOD, and
following receipt of a completed engraving schedule from the NOK, the MOD will order the urn

Burial at sea is only permitted in exceptional circumstances for very distinguished Senior Naval
Officers or Naval holders of the Victoria Cross who have expressed such a wish. However NOK
may request committal at sea of the cremated remains of Serving or retired Royal Naval personnel
at the discretion of the Commander in Chief of the Fleet or the appropriate Flag Officer.

If you are not satisfied with this response or wish to complain about any aspect of the handling of
your request, then you should contact my office in the first instance. If informal resolution is not
possible and you are still dissatisfied then you may apply for an independent internal review by
contacting the Deputy Chief Information Officer, 2nd Floor, MOD Main Building, Whitehall, SW1A
2HB (e-mail
). Please note that any request for an internal review must be
made within 40 working days of the date on which the attempt to reach informal resolution has come
to an end.

If you remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you may take your complaint to the
Information Commissioner under the provisions of Section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Please note that the Information Commissioner will not investigate your case until the MOD internal
review process has been completed. Further details of the role and powers of the Information
Commissioner can be found on the Commissioner’s website,

Yours sincerely,


Defence Personnel Secretariat



Thanks! I thought that is almost everything I need to to know apart from what I asked for, well really… what happened next I hear you ask! Tune in next time folks for another thrilling episode of The Old Sailor and the MOD…


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kentucky vetrans retiring flag

Respecting the ashes of a flag: a ceremony for retiring ceremonial colours in the US


On the blog we discuss many aspects of the cremation ashes ceremony including the dignity and the meaning. This is a story that comes from Richmond, Kentucky USA  and it sparked my thinking on logical extensions from memorialising human ashes to that of a nations symbols – The flags of state and it’s institutions. Before we start I will admit to being a bit of a fan of flags (Vexillology for those wish to know the proper word) as you will see from many of my blog post pictures.

Anyway, here we have veterans’ from the area ‘retiring’ their county’s colours, when they are a bit too worn for display purposes. The veterans, with Brownies and Girl Scout Cadet Troop in attendance, carried out a ceremony to respectfully dispose of the flags. How is that done then, I hear you ask? Well, an honour guard is formed; a volley of shots is fired; a veteran plays “Taps” on a bugle; and then a container holding the old and faded flags is set ablaze, inside a sort of brazier or garden incinerator. The whole procedure is prescribed in a 1942 federal statute.

When the cremation was complete the ashes are to be buried in U.S. Army flag. After the ceremony, each scout who participated was presented a flag ceremony patch or badge.

Flags are truly fascinating (my wife thinks this aspect of my persona is a bit odd). The difference between the reverence in Britain and America is marked. I am sure you could write a dissertation on it, but Brit’s relationship with the Union Jack (yes I know that is the slang term for it) is complex what with it being made up made from three of the four countries in the UK (yes I know the reason for Wales). Whereas in the US it is perhaps more simple, as a younger country, with some good principles (apart from the right the bear arms) and not so much colonial baggage, the fact it is a democratic republic and that one gets a slightly indoctrinated by swearing allegiance to the flag makes it all that bit more important. None the less, the flag is part of being an American, so it is understandable then that such reverence is put into the way they are disposed of, even to the extent of having it defined in statute! To be honest I can’t see this one crossing the channel, the only time you ever see the Union Jack being burnt is when another nation or its people has yet again got cross with the UKs stance on foreign (or even internal) policy and decide to ‘show-off’ in the normal fashion.

On top of the general level of interest two further bits of detail caught my eye, firstly when the ashes are cremated they are buried in a flag – how does that work – what about that flag? The second is there is scout ‘flag ceremony’ badge / patch… which to my mind means both: it is a big deal; and there is a wide number of badge activities.

I could spend hours on this, in fact I may dig out the US statute…

Original source:


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scattering ashes at the nma

National Memorial Arboretum’s policy on cremation ashes


scattering ashes at the nma

The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, near Lichfield, Staffordshire, England is a national (as in UK wide) site of remembrance for members of all armed forces. It gives its purpose as – “The National Memorial Arboretum honours the fallen, recognises sacrifice and fosters pride in our country. It is a spiritually uplifting place and is emerging as a world-renowned centre for remembrance.”

However they do not allow the interring or scattering of cremation ashes at the Arboretum. In a response to the question of whether it is permissible they said: “I am afraid that as a result of a decision by our Trustees in 2006, we also do not allow this practice, as it was deemed we are not a cemetery or crematorium.”

I understand and respect their stance as to why they would choose not to allow the practice, it is perhaps subtle divide they are drawing but allowing people to scatter or bury there would give the site a slightly different meaning and purpose.

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scattering trebuchet

Medieval fashion – ashes launched from a Trebuchet or Catapult


Flung from a mighty medieval war engine, sailing into the sky then boom! The ashes scattered across the the target – what a way to go!

Well okay perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but I would wager there are plenty people out there who would like it! Okay mainly your armour clad battle enactment lovers, perhaps a few engineers and the odd history lover maybe – see more than you would think.

Imagine. The Drum beating out, the clash of steel and wood, then silence, the pull of the lever and woosh!

Now I haven’t quite laid this on a plate for you, but here are some starters.

Option One: from a Working Replica, to date I have found two full size working trebuchet in the UK (there may be more)

All you need to is persuade them to let you use them for this activity, umm ok tall order perhaps, but you never know.

Option Two: Build your own. Again perhaps an issue, but I have found a website which has plans for a model that can sling a boulder of 6lbs in weight, which should do the job –

If you are from The States you could do it as part of a Trebuchet building competition, they hold a competition called Siege the Day (very good) in which you could participate,  failing that I suppose you could ask one of contestants to lend you one?

Option Three: Get someone to build one for you, bit pricey but still, these guys built one for the BBC Carpenter Oak and Woodland

Option Four: Reconstruct one as part of a memorial event. This is my favourite (although I have not approach the company involved) based in Bedfordshire on a sort of activity centre, you get to build the trebuchet from the kit and fire it. It says once constructed it is capable of firing a water balloon or football up to 120 feet. Go to Lee-leisure

So how would you fire the ashes? Again I think we have a couple of options, one would be to make a missile out of paper mache, using a blown up balloon (not too challenging), the other use one of our floating ball urns they would do the trick.
Lastly the script, something from Henry V  ‘Once more into the breach…’ or maybe Monty Python and the Holy Gail ‘Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!’
 ashes catapult
Over to you, good luck, and let us know how you get on….
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military columbarium

Utah Veterans have a new columbarium and scattering site


Military veterans form the US state of Utah have had their cemetery facilities enhanced and improved. The US Department for Veteran Affairs awarded a grant of $4.5million for improvement to the Utah Veterans Cemetery & Memorial Park in Bluffdale, Utah.

The cemetery now includes a new columbarium and a garden for scattering ashes, with the names of those scattered engraved on an adjacent monument.

Since the refurbishment, the park mangers stated that the columbarium has been popular with 15 applicants already, whereas the scattering garden has yet to be used.

You may think there is nothing particular interesting about this little fact. I beg to differ.

Options for cremation ashes in veteran’s cemeteries are increasing in popularity, as the spokesmen said it is the ‘sign of the times’, but what does that mean? I guess they were mainly implying cost of the funeral, in that people will chose cremation over burial based on price, in addition the article also pointed out that the facility was free for the veterans and $700 for the spouse (although it was unclear what this $700 was for).

So if you choose to be memorialised in a cemetery then it is perhaps (and I am guessing at this point) that if two options are the same price and one that is perceived as ‘grander’ will be the choice.

It is interesting to watch how State institutions adapt to the change in social trends and the rationale they believe is behind the choices.

As a Brit the concept of the State having such a big mechanism for ex servicemen surprised me, but then America is a big country and has been involved a lot of conflicts over the last century. I would also argue there is a different relationship between the State and its service personal, as to defining those difference you could write a book. One last point, the article concluded ‘With the expansion, the cemetery should be able to accommodate all veterans who choose to be buried there, including Vietnam-era veterans, who will soon eclipse World War II veterans as the largest group dying each year. The state has an estimated 50,000 Vietnam-era vets.’ – Blimey. Then will come those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan…

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Scattering ashes from Ramsgate Harbour

Scattering in Ramsgate: the story of a son of an ex-policemen

Here is a short story I found on the website it is about one mans experience of scattering his fathers ashes.

I will try and put up as many of these stories as I find, anything which helps you to validate your experience and lets you know you are not the only one should be shared. Also if you are about to scatter some ashes and have never done it before it can help you to learn from someone else’s experience, we are all similar and yet entirely different.

This story is similar in many respects to a lot of scatterings, those involved not knowing quite what to do, having to factor cost into the decision making process, choosing a fitting final resting place, and the ubiquitous encounter with Mother Nature.

I found it interesting that when the group involved found out they would have to pay for a ‘license’ to scatter from the harbour wall they decided they would just sneak and do it anyway. It’s that typical British thing of ‘we like rules but we quite like cocking-a-snoop at them too’! Note: I could not find any reference to this fee when I looked the authority’s website but that doesn’t mean there are none, they may just not list all their charges.

What wasn’t quite so typical is that the family acted so quickly after the funeral, many of us take well over a year and often longer to decide what to do with cremation ashes. There was also a nice bit of symbolism introduced by one of the daughters, she made a paper aeroplane from pictures of the WWII aircraft associated with her father and then threw them with the ashes.

However, I was left feeling rather sad afterwards and this had nothing to do with how they scattered the ashes, you couldn’t help but feel his immediate grief at at such an unexpected loss and how this was compounded by the lack of mourners, shame.

Anyway – have a read Scattering Ashes by Peter Brooks

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cremation ashes scattered in lent spitfire

Scattering Ashes – Spitfire or Piper “Grasshopper”: Kent


ashes scattered from a WW2 plane


A fitting end for any RAF or WWII veteran, pilot or plane enthusiast, being scattered from a  choice of vintage World War II planes.

What is more there could be no finer plane  that chimes with British nation as the majestic and legendary Spitfire. Alternatively you could chose the Piper Cub L-4, a familiar sight with classic design and known to most people as the ‘Grasshopper’.

Fights operate from an airbase in Kent. From an Airfield with a Battle of Britain history

They can fly all year round as long as the weather is good and the cost are as follows, approximately:
WW2 1943 Piper L4 Cub £250-£350 plus VAT
WW2 1944 Spitfire Mk9 £1800-£2500 plus VAT

The flight lasts as long as it takes to get to the release point and the return back to the airbase. Obviously the further the flight the greater the price, mainly due to increased fuel costs.

To make an enquiry please fill out the form below and the plane operator will contact you as soon as they are able. You will receive and automated email with the operator’s direct telephone number should your enquiry be more urgent.

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POW camp ash scattering

Ex Nazi to have his ashes scattered where he was a PoW

german cremains scotland

POW camp ash scattering

A German soldier left his estate to a Scottish the village of Comrie, Perthshire and is to have his cremation ashes scattered there where he was a prisoner of war camp during WWII.

Heinrich Steinmeyer was a soldier in the Wafhen SS and was captured fighting to defend a bridge in Caen, Normandy. Mr Steinmeyer joined the Nazis in 1941 at the age of 17, and fought in the 12th Panzer Division, a fanatical division with links to war crimes.

After being captured he was taken to the prison camp called Cultybraggan, in Scotland, infamous for housing Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess and for when one of detainees was hanged by fellow inmates after being accused of leaking an escape plot.

Now 84 and living in Delmenhorst, near Bremen, Mr Steinmeyer said:

‘I always wanted to repay the generosity they showed me. They deserve everything I have to give them. And it is far better they have it than anyone else.

‘Cultybraggan was a holiday camp compared to the fighting. The whole place was so beautiful. It went straight to my heart, and I thought “why have I been fighting this bloody war?”.

‘They were tough, but always fair. I didn’t expect to find this attitude – I was not just the enemy, but a Nazi.

‘Such friendliness was a surprise, but it is in the British nature. It was so much better than being told to lie in a filthy foxhole – and to die there.’

After the war Mr Steinmeyer known locally as ‘Heinz’ decided to stay in Scotland upon learning that his home town had become a part of Poland. He was amazed by the kindness of villagers, even though he made no secret of his Nazi past.  He stayed in Scotland for seven years as a civilian, working in civil engineering.

Mr Steinmeyer has pledged to leave his home and life savings of £430,000 to elderly residents in the village of Comrie, Perthshire, as a gesture of gratitude.

Nothing to add really, apart from: am I contributing to this country’s fixation on the war? Still it is a good news story and there aren’t enough of those broadcast.

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Shrapnel found in War Hero after cremation

An old war veteran from Exeter passed recently, he had suffered from a war wound all his adult life after standing on a landmine in France in 1944. He told the family he had a ‘bullet’ in the knee. He didn’t complain about it, but just asked the grandchildren not to sit on it. After he was cremated the family was given a contaier with the shrapnel in it weigh about 6oz!

The story reported in the Telegraph, then picked by a number of news outlets in the States is one of humility and stoic suffering of that generation and perhaps a small mirror to the whinging we hear from every side today.

His daughter Ms Madden of Exeter, Devon said: “I don’t think he ever realised all that was in his leg – it weighed about six ounces.

“He’d said there was a bullet in his leg but I was imagining one romantic piece of metal.

“But when we went to scatter his ashes we asked whether the bullet had been found and they gave us this bag full of metal.

He received the injury whilst serving in the East Yorkshire Regiment, two months after D-Day

She went onto say: “He would travel overseas to Australia and America and he was always setting off scanners as he walked through.

“We always thought it was a bullet in the knee but when the funeral directors gave us this bag of shrapnel they had taken out we were shocked at how much there was.

“We are all very proud of him and what he did for all of us. The bits of metal in him just show how horrible the war was.

“I suppose it’s a bitter-sweet memory for us because it symbolises everything he did and how he suffered.”

I totally agree with Ms Madden.

The article also said that workers at Exeter and Devon Crematorium carefully sifted through his ashes and found the metal pieces.

Now this is my small concern. Looking at the picture it appears contain amongst other things, Philips screws? And wire, is that landmine ordnance? I not saying it isn’t and I am certainly not taking away anything away from the sentiment, or suffering of the soldier. It just left scratching my head about what they asked, what they got and how it was described, as it doesn’t quite add up: the amount and the type of material. In my head I think I can see how it may have worked. Ms Madden sought to recover the ‘romantic’ bullet, which was translated could the metal components from the crematoria be recovered. After all the crematoria staff are unlikely to able to distinguish shrapnel, so perhaps better to hand back everything metallic and let the family consider what to keep. So when Ms Madden received the bag containing almost 6oz of metal and said something like ‘My goodness! Was all this from my dad’s injury?’ What is the funeral director to say? Either no Madam this is the metal constituents removed after crematorium it contains all metal items that were placed inside the cremator we couldn’t separate the element you wished to reclaim, or… Absolutely, that is exactly what they are. Now maybe I am wide of the mark. However, as with a lot of writing on this most sensitive subject matters I truly don’t want to cause distress or offence, but my role as I see it, is to look at these matters though a different lens.

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Fitting farewell to an old soldier: a paratroopers ashes scattered over Arnhem in Holland.

This is a great story of paratrooper, veteran of WWII and subsequent conflicts, having his ashes scattered at the site of one of the famous locations in airborne military history.

Ernest Venus passed away earlier this year and his daughter Joan Venus Evans thought it would be a fitting tribute to have his ashes parachuted down and scattered over Arnhem. Lance Corporal Chris Duggan, of Hull TA unit, 299 (Parachute Squadron) Royal Engineers, volunteered to jump out of an aircraft, carrying Mr Venus’s ashes.

The Dutch town of Arnhem in the Netherlands and its Bridge were considered to be key strategic objectives in the closing stages of the war. Operation Market Garden as it was known was later immortalised in the classic war film A Bridge Too Far (Arnhem being that Bridge)

Mr Venus joined the East Yorkshire Regiment in 1940 and qualified as a military parachutist in December 1941. He rejoined the army soon after being de-mobbed and served in the unit the late 1960s, reaching the rank of staff sergeant.

Mrs Venus-Evans said funeral director Mark Horton gave her the idea of having her father’s ashes scattered from the air. Air the Regiment were there to help for an old comrade.

Once Lance Corporal Duggan completed the task, Mr Venus’s family held their own tribute in west Hull.

Mrs Venus-Evans said: “I had a text from Major Wilcock to say the ashes had been released over the drop zone in Arnhem.

“We went outside and set some rockets off. It was more emotional than the funeral.”

Lance Corporal Duggan said he was honoured to have carried out the task on behalf of his regiment.

He said: “It was an incredible experience for me to be parachuting into Arnhem, let alone have the honour of scattering the ashes of a former member of the Squadron onto the drop zone.”

This story is exactly what we hope to say on the website – celebrate, make it memorable, make it your own and if possible remember with a smile. The article has a lovely quote from Mrs Venus Evans: “Dad was never happier than when he was on manoeuvres or parachuting. “It could not have been more fitting. Anyone who knew Dad would know he would be laughing his head off.”



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ashes intered on commission graves

Burying cremation ashes at a War Graves owned by the War Grave Commission

ashes intered on commission graves

Interment of remains in a designated war grave, owned by the Commission, is restricted only to the war casualty’s spouse, siblings or children.

Once it has been established that the initial criteria has been met those that wish to arrange for the interment of the ashes, would have to apply to the War Graves Commission formally in writing. This correspondence would need to give the details of the casualty whose burial we record and the relationship of the recently deceased to that casualty.

They made the point that the rules regarding the importation and interment of ashes varies greatly from country to country and for this reason we always recommend that once the Commission has given permission, it is advisable to seek advice on the transportation of ashes, before making any further arrangement or travel plans.

“Each case is dealt with on an individual basis. Please inform your future enquirers to contact the Commission first regarding any requests to inter ashes in a Commission grave.”

The Commission will only allow ashes to be interred. Scattering ashes at the grave is not permitted.

If you wish to contact them, go to their site:


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sailors ashes

A service for Royal Navy & Royal Marines who ‘cross the bar’

Committal of ashes to sea –  A service for Military personal including Royal Navy & Royal Marines ‘crossing the bar

Every Seaman you ever speak to will tell you the sea runs right to their very core of their soul, for many the image of a burial at sea looms large in the imagination. Whilst burials at sea in coastal waters are difficult to arrange and only permitted in specific places,  the option to have their ashes committed to the sea is available to all.

Royal Navy carries out the water burials at sea for cremated remains from Portsmouth, Plymouth (Devonport) and The Clyde (Faslane).

The service is free and available to

  • All former members of the Armed Forces and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
  • The service is available  for spouses of anyone who would have been eligible.
  • Merchant Navy are considered on a case by case and certainly any war service would count. They also consider Sea Cadet Leaders and those who have worked in the Dockyard or Maritime Defence.

There are certain conditions primarily about the urn which needs to fit for purpose (which we can help with) and the numbers and ages of those attending, but what a great send of for Salty Dogs and Jack Tar’s alike!

To arrange for a committal service by the Royal Naval Chaplaincy service – Royal Naval Committal 

For a Royal Naval Committal Urn design for the ceremony follow the link.

The expression Cross the Bar or Crossing the Bar relates to an Alfred Lord Tennyson poem – Crossing the Bar, it is a euphemism for a sailor passing away.

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vietnam ashes

Not allowed alongside fallen comrades…



A French General asked for his funeral ashes to be scattered alongside those of his fallen comrades in Vietnam. General Marcel Bigeard, one of France’s most decorated soldiers, died last month, and this was his wish. However Vietnamese government has turned down a request to scatter the ashes at the site of a battle which helped end colonial rule by France.  Saying it would set a precedent…

Any lessons I wonder – in cases like this where is would case no harm is it better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Or perhaps one should consider what the reaction will be before making such a wish…

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