The Vale of Glamorgan Council – which had rejected a request that the memory of Penarth Royal Marine Commando Paul Woodland should be officially honoured on the town’s war memorial – has finally compromised after years of pressure from his former fiancee, his family and from senior political figures.
Paul Woodland (32) of Penarth – drowned in October 2012 during a Special Forces “surf skills” exercise off Saunton Sands, North Devon when a large wave swamped and capsized the rigid inflatable boat (RIB) he and his fellow soldiers were in. Pte Woodland was trapped underneath the upturned boat by the engines and was drowned.
His fiancee Sian, who adopted his surname after his death, launched a campaign for Paul to be recognised on Penarth’s official war memorial – but this was rejected by the Vale Council .
In 2014 Vale Council Leader Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward Barry) called for the campaign to be halted, refused to consider placing Pte Woodland’s name on Penarth’s main War Memorial and refused to meet with Woodland family. The decision revolved around the circumstances of Pte Woodward’s death – which was not brought-about by enemy action and did not take place in a theatre of war,
Cllr Moore said “ My decision is based on protecting the memories of the vast majority of personnel named on the cenotaph who did die in active military service both at this time and years to come.”
Penarth’s Conservative AM, Andrew R T Davies, personally intervened and said the council “should give Paul Woodland the recognition his service warrants”.
Paul’s father Melwyn Woodland says the council has now agreed that a memorial can be installed in Penarth’s Garden of Remembrance – provided that the bulk of the funding required is raised by the family and the charity founded in his name.
The new memorial will comprise a big globe mounted on a pedestal in the Garden of Remembrance adjacent to the entrance to Alexandra Park .
Paul Woodland’s name is to be the only one inscribed upon the memorial, although it’s understood the monument will also honour others who have died in the service of their country .
As fund-raising still has some way to go, it is unlikely that the new memorial can be installed in the Garden of Remembrance in time for this year’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations .