Friday, March 16, 2012

Dec 2011: The Air Force Memorial at Runnymede #5

This is the final photo essay of my visit to Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed. Up above the meadow is Cooper’s Hill and this is where the Airforce memorial is placed.

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I turn into the memorial park between the two imposing pillars.

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And there is the memorial. Beautiful and peaceful.

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You can see a plane from Heathrow taking off above the memorial.

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The RAF emblem on top of the gate

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The Royal Lions on the gate.

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The names of twenty thousand airmen who have no known grave. They died for freedom in rain and sortie over the British Isles and the lands and seas of Northern and Western Europe between 1939 – 1945.

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The Queen’s speech.

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The memorial is in the form of a hollow square. On the right, poppy wreaths are placed.

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The benefactors.

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This building won the Architecture Award in 1953.

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The passageways have these plaques on the left hand side which have the names inscribed on them. By year, by type of Air Force and by Rank. On the top are the crests of the various Air Forces who fought on the side of the UK.

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The beginning…

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The centre of the memorial.

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Very peaceful view

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This is not a sterile place, people visit this constantly. To pay respects to these warriors.


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Sometimes the remembrances have been left by a friend, some by students from their alma mater.

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And some by their families.

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A Royal Indian Air Force team died…

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A Royal Canadian Air Force emblem…

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Pakistan, India, New Zealand, South Africa…

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The top ends with a curved horn like passageway.

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Somebody left a photograph of the pilot who died. Handsome chap.

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At the end, there is a domed circular structure.

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With a starred ceiling.

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Views from the three windows.

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Looking over London.

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Some pretty senior chaps died…

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Walking back to the quadrangle.

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The Queen signed the visitor’s book.

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The key to the memorial…

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The signatures…

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A chapel opens up in the middle with a poem inscribed on the glass.

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Couple of rows of chairs where you can sit and silently remember those who passed away.

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Here is how it looks from the balcony in a panoramic view.

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A plane taking off from the airport.

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Looking down at the forest.

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I decide to walk up..

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The spiral stairs till I reach the top room. .

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This poem has been engraved on the north facing window.

The first rays of the dawning sun
Shall touch its pillars,
And as the day advances
And the light grows stronger,
You shall read the names
Engraved on the stone of those who sailed on the angry sky
And saw harbour no more.
No gravestone in yew-dark churchyard
Shall mark their resting place;
Their bones lie in the forgotten corners of earth and sea.
But, that we may not lose their memory
With fading years, their monuments stand here,
Here, where the trees troop down to Runnymede .
Meadow of Magna Carta, field of freedom,
Never saw you so fitting a memorial,
Proof that the principals established here
Are still dear to the hearts of men.
Here now they stand, contrasted and alike,
The field of freedom's birth, and the memorial
To freedom's winning.

And, as evening comes,
And mists, like quiet ghosts, rise from the river bed,
And climb the hill to wander through the cloisters,
We shall not forget them. Above the mist
We shall see the memorial still, and over it
The crown and single star. And we shall pray
As the mists rise up and the air grows dark
That we may wear
As brave a heart as they.

I climb up to the roof and see a breathtaking view of the back.

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Pretty neat, eh?

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The sweep of the River Thames.

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Pointing North

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The Kiosks of the entrance to the Magna Carta Park.

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Terminal 5 Heathrow, the armpit of the world.

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A plane taking off. You can see Canary Wharf in the dim and distant background.

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Three planes coming into land.

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A plane taking off into the gloom

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A wood fire?

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Naked branches…

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The crowning glory.

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The copper covered top..with the lightening conductor.

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Some lovely houses..

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The spiral staircase…

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The left hand side horn…I keep on walking

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A photo of one of the warriors, left by his son on the right. How poignant.

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Walking through the quiet corridors.

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Did a double take when i saw this. Noor Inayat Khan, George Cross is such a wonderful Indian lady. She said this: "I wish some Indians would win high military distinction in this war. If one or two could do something in the Allied service which was very brave and which everybody admired it would help to make a bridge between the English people and the Indians.

She was betrayed and was executed at Dachau Concentration Camp. What a brave lady.


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These are three statues of Justice, Victory and Courage respectively from left to right.

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Their name liveth forevermore.

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Another Indian who flew spitfires for the RIAF

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More Indians…

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While the memorial says till 1945, there are some names for later on as well.

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Keeps on going.

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The final plaques

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These are empty plaques..they were more poignant…

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Air Force members from other organisations…

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The Royal Lion, I exit and snap off a salute to all these brave men and women.

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Holly Berries.

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And then I walk down the hill, thinking about all those pilots who died in the WW2. Brave men, wonderful memorial. This definitely talked to me much more than the Magna Carta Runnymede meadow. Lovely place indeed.

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