A national memorial has been dedicated to all those who were part of the county regiments of Devon and Dorset.

Statues of three soldiers from three campaigns in the history of the three West Country regiments (Devonshire, Dorsetshire and Devonshire & Dorset – the former merged to become the latter in 1958) now stand at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire in memory of all those who served the counties for 137 years.

Guests at the ceremony included HRH The Duke of Kent who was formerly the Colonel-in-Chief of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment – which was amalgamated into the Rifles in 2007.

He said: "Through my visits to The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment in the years that it existed, I came to recognise the sterling qualities of this quintessentially West Country Regiment and to appreciate its professionalism as it served in many different and challenging theatres of operations. I have also come to know the very strong loyalties and comradeship which binds the men and their families in war and peace.

"The spirit of service represented by this memorial I believe to be totally appropriate and a fitting tribute to the commitment of all three Regiments over the course of the centuries. It will ensure that the service given will be remembered by future generations and will provide a focus for those associated with the Regiments to visit and remember.”

Major General Bryan Dutton, chairman of The Regimental Charity, said: "The underlying theme for this memorial is one of service and the three figures from The Somme, Kohima and Northern Ireland are intended to illustrate a joint commitment and culture which bridges the ages. The unspoken but understood ethos of the Regiments has always been one of understated excellence.”

John Wibberley served with the Devon and Dorset regiment as a warrant officer.

"Seeing this memorial in front of me gives me great pride in the fact that my Regiment and its forebears now have a place on this magnificent site to mark their many years of service," he said.

"I was struck by the attention to detail of the soldier figures and their bearing. They epitomise what we were: great soldiers throughout all the years."

In May last year an appeal was launched for donations to create a lasting national tribute to the infantry soldiers who served the counties of Devon and Dorset.

Internationally-renowned artist Vivien Mallock, whose military works are located in London and on the battlefields of Normandy and Waterloo has created three figures of soldiers from the Devonshire Regiment, The Dorset Regiment and the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment.