The Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede



This memorial 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; they came from all parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire; and some were from countries in continental Europe which had been over-run but whose airmen continued to fight in the ranks of the Royal Air Force.

The site is in a wonderfully peaceful area of raised ground on Cooper Hill and over looks the Thames and riverside meadow where the Magna Carta was sealed by King John in 1215.


The memorial was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 17 October 1953. The text of the Queen's dedicatory address is displayed inside the entrance and the following is extracted from it:


It is very fitting that those who rest in nameless graves should be remembered in this place. For it was in these 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 was the price worth paying.

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 into dust.

For wherever and for as long as freedom flourishes on the earth, the men and women who possess it will thank them and will say they did not die in vain. That is their true and everlasting memorial.