We were pleased to see Chris and Stanley yesterday morning as our diesel tank was needing a fill-up. We shall see him again for fuel before settling into our winter mooring.
Sue and Vic (No Problem XL) arrived at lunch time and in the afternoon we planned a walk up the steep steps of Coopers Hill to the Air Forces Memorial
The Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede commemorates by name over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves. They served in Bomber, Fighter, Coastal, Transport, Flying Training and Maintenance Commands, and came from all parts of the Commonwealth. Some were from countries in continental Europe which had been overrun but whose airmen continued to fight in the ranks of the Royal Air Force. 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. The Memorial was unveiled by The Queen on 17 October 1953.
This memorial has been built in proud memory of the men and women of the Air Forces of the British Commonwealth and Empire who lost their lives serving from bases in the United Kingdom and North-West Europe in the Second World War and have no known graves.
They were part of a glorious and far larger company who laid down their lives for freedom; and this memorial is one of many others, built wherever the battle raged, so that they may never be forgotten. Twenty thousand four hundred and fifty-five names are recorded on these stones; and all races and communities of the British Commonwealth have here their representatives.
It is very fitting that those who rest in nameless graves should be remembered in this place. For it was in those fields of Runnymede seven centuries ago that our forefathers first planted a seed of liberty which helped to spread across the earth the conviction that man should be free and not enslaved. And when the life of this belief was threatened by the iron hand of tyranny, their successors came forward without hesitation to fight, and if it was demanded of them, to die for its salvation. As only free men can, they knew the value of that for which they fought, and that the price was worth paying.
They were not alone in knowledge and sacrifice. At this very hour a memorial porch is being unveiled in Chelmsford Cathedral to commemorate some of those American airmen who fought together with us against the same aggression.
With prophetic insight Pope wrote of this hill on which we stand:
“On Cooper’s Hill eternal wreaths shall grow
While lasts the mountain, or while Thames
Indeed the heroism of each will be remembered for as long as this memorial shall stand. But that which was done by all will, with God’s help, still be remembered when these stones have crumbled to dust. For wherever and for as long as freedom flourishes on earth, and men and women who posses it will thank them and say that they did not die in vain. This is their true and everlasting memorial."
Although I’ve visited the memorial several times, because I don’t do heights I’ve never climbed up the spiral staircase to the top, but yesterday I did! It wasn’t too bad as the wall with an iron guard on top is quite high and made me feel much safer while I took photographs
The pictures of Heathrow Airport were taken from the first landing and as we climbed further to the top I looked down on this beautiful window ...
The window is engraved with words from Psalm 139 (New International Version which is sometimes referred to as the Airman’s Psalm. Although difficult to see in this picture the window is also engraved with angels and vapour trails taken from actual photographs of the sky during the Battle of Britain.If I climb up into Heaven, Thou art there;
The engraved window below is in the gallery on the top landing before stepping outside and was written by a student Paul H Scott just after the memorial was completed ...
Looking back at the entrance to the memorial where George is waiting patiently with NP’s canines Meg and Penny and of course our Molly.
A very rare picture indeed of even one of us let alone both of us together! (taken by another sightseer on the roof).
Still Rockin’ in her mooring far, far below ...
… and St Andrew’s Church in the village of Wraysbury
Looking west is the National Trust rangers building on the river side which sits opposite the memorial lodge and Magna Carta commemorative pier both designed by Edward Lutyens
… and looking east is the curve of the River Thames beside the busy A308 and London’s water supply in Wraysbury Reservoir alongside Heathrow Airport
The familiar arch at Wembley in the misty distance beyond Heathrow.
Looking south-east we can see the 100-foot drop of SAW The Ride at Thorpe Park, Chertsey
Also taken from the top of the building we can now see Meg and Molly waiting not so patiently!
Looking back as Sue and I leave the Air Forces Memorial.
The whole building with its stone walls full of the names of fallen airmen during WWII is amazing, it’s so peaceful yet so sad but beautiful.
Reunited with George and the canines we walk back down the hill via the path and across the fields to the park where we enjoy ice cream/lolly curtesy of Sue who remembered to carry some cash!
It was a good day.