I am pleased to announce a fairly significant addition to the Gravestone Project for the Roll of Honour pages of the blog. A chance to visit my Sister in the summer while down with Mum led me to the snap decision to go over the the Air Force Memorial at Runnymede.
In hindsight, a little more planning might have helped. At least I had the sense to extract and reorder those from the Squadron in panel, rather than date or name order……….
I had been to Runnymede before – but walking through the drizzel to the gate entrance, my recollections of my earlier visit felt dream-like. The memorial building was not at all as I thought I remembered it – somehow smaller, less spread out.
I had last been when, I think, I was perhaps about 9 or 10. I had gone, if I recall with Mum, Dad and I think Sandra, who today we were visiting. Like a dream, I had broken images of Dad, walking alone, stopping, searching the panels, pausing before walking onto another one. At the time I had little idea and even less interest as to what this place was, let a lone why I was required to be there.
Again with many things since Bob’s passing, I have occasionally found myself stood, or sat in a series of bittersweet puddles – and this was another of them……..
The Air Forces Memorial, or Runnymede Memorial, in Englefield Green, near Egham, Surrey, is a memorial dedicated to the 20,456 men and women from the air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II. Those recorded have no known grave anywhere in the world, and many were lost without trace. The name of each of these airmen and airwomen are engraved into the stone walls of the memorial, according to country, squadron and date of loss.
The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe with sculpture by Vernon Hill. The engraved glass and painted ceilings were designed by John Hutton, and the poem engraved on the gallery window was written by Paul H Scott. It was the first post-World War II building to be listed for architectural merit.
In practical terms my photographic endeavours were not made easier by torrential rain and variable light conditions. The panels are tall – much taller than I imagined – and I was loathe to stand on the seats between each set of panels. Lifting the camera to arms length went some way to ‘square’ the camera to some of the names higher up, but, again I have to thank Photoshop and my camera’s massive resolution for the quality of some of the images.
Armed with the list and slowly disappearing light I set to the task and am (relatively) pleased to say I managed to record 144 – approximately half the names I needed to. On reflection I am glad I only managed half – it means I have to go back and returning means I will go back better prepared – probably to take all of them again.
Perhaps fate, perhaps just numerical chance, but it meant a lot to find and photograph 2 names in particular – and if another 2 people find and read this post, they have my warmest regards and thoughts.
AKE AKE KIA KAHA!
Please view individual names within the relevant alphabetical sections of the Roll of Honour pages of the blog, in the top menu bar.