Air Forces Memorials


The principal air force memorials are those at Alamein and Singapore (combined with the Army's described earlier) and Runnymede and Malta (which follow), and Ottawa. The great majority of those commemorated died while flying or in aircrashes, but there was a sizeable minority who died while not on flying duties- in troopships or in air attacks on their airfields. The essential point when deciding where an airman was to be commemorated was where he was based, not necessarily the area in which he was presumed lost.


Malta G C

The Malta Memorial stands in the Floriana District of Malta's capital, Valletta, and consists of a column, about 50 feet high, surmounted by a large gilded bronze eagle with outstretched wings. The column stands on a circular base, around which the names are commemorated on bronze panels; the memorial area takes the form of large garden, with approach paths. The 2,300 Commonwealth airmen commemorated here died in the 1939-1945 War while based in and around the Mediterranean, and as far north as Austria and south to Tunisia, and have no known graves. The airmen were in the following Air Forces: 1,550 in the RAF; 300 in the Royal Canadian; 200 in the Royal Australian; 85 in the Royal New Zealand; and 170 in the South African.

The memorial was designed by Hubert Worthington and unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 3rd May 1954. Her Majesty had previously been stationed in Malta as the wife of Prince Philip, while a serving officer in the Royal Navy.


United Kingdom

The Runnymede Memorial stands on Cooper's Hill, overlooking Runnymede, the Thames-side pastures three miles east of Windsor where King John signed Magna Carta in 1215. The large site was given to the Commission by Sir Eugen and Lady Effie Millington-Drake. (Sir Eugen was British Ambassador to Uruguay at the time of the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939.)

The design of the memorial consists of a square cloister. On the far side from the entrance is a tower, reminiscent of a war-time airfield control tower, available for access and giving fine views. The cloister on this side, which is on the edge of a wooded hill and overlooks the River Thames, has two curved wings, terminating in look-outs, one facing Windsor, the other Heathrow, London's main airport.

The tower has a central arched opening above which are three stone figures sculptured by Vernon Hill, representing Justice, Victory, and Courage. The focal point for ceremonies is the Stone of Remembrance on the lawn enclosed by the cloisters, and for contemplation, a chapel in the tower.

The memorial commemorates 20,000 airmen and airwomen of the Commonwealth Air Forces who, during the 1939-1945 War, died over north-western and central Europe, the British Isles, and the eastern Atlantic, while in any of the Air Forces Commands, and have no known grave. These airmen were in the following Air Forces: Royal Air Force 15,400 (including 25 from Newfoundland); Royal Canadian, 3,050; Royal Australian 1,400; Royal New Zealand 600; South African 17; Royal Indian seven, with others from the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, British Overseas Airways Corporation, etc.

The memorial was designed by Edward Maufe and was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 11th October 1953.

spacer The text on this page has been taken from Courage Remembered, by Kingsley Ward and Major Edwin Gibson.

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