The fighter pilots of the Battle of Britain kept the Nazi’s at bay during the summer of 1940 and throughout the Second World War the men of Bomber Command took the fight to the enemy in a role that was statistically as dangerous as being an infantryman in the Great War of 1914 – 1918. There are numerous graves as testimony to their courage but for many there is no known resting place. Situated at Englefield Green, near Egham in Surrey, the memorial is dedicated to the 20,456 Air Force personnel that were lost in operations during World War II and those who served in Air Forces of the Commonwealth at bases in the UK and North West Europe. Tragically, all those listed on the memorial have no known graves and many were lost without trace.
The Runnymede Air Forces Memorial was designed by English architect, Sir Edward Brantwood Maufe, who also designed nearby Guildford Cathedral. He was most famous for his work on places of worship and memorials although he did design other type of buildings.
The ceiling’s engraved glass and paintings were designed by John Hutton and the poem on the gallery window was written by Paul H Scott. This memorial was the first post World War II building to be listed for its architectural merit.
The building overlooks the River Thames and Runnymede Meadow, where the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215 by King John. Looking across London from the upper viewpoint on a clear day you can see the London Eye, Wembley Stadium and Windsor Castle.
The land on which the memorial was built was donated by Sir Eugen and Lady Effie Millington-Drake in 1949. Sir Eugen, was a British diplomat educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he rowed for the winning team in the 1911 Boat Race. It was opened in 1953 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Visitors to the memorial will notice that it is under the flight path for Heathrow Airport. Nothing could be more poignant than to visit the memorial and hear the sound of aircraft just taking off and coming into land.
The memorial is open daily during daylight hours throughout the year with the exception of Christmas Day. It attracts thousands of visitors every year and is a lovely location for reflection during the summer months.
A short distance away from the Runnymede Air Forces Memorial visitors can see the memorials to the Magna Carta and John F Kennedy. Both of these can be found at the bottom of the hill below the Runnymede memorial.
The area is ideal for walking and enjoying the peace of the woodland, ponds and lakes. There are trails that stretch for miles. At the entrance to Runnymede at the ‘Old Windsor’ side, is a small boatyard where visitors can take a trip on a replica of an African paddle steamer.
The Air Forces Memorial is visited by many people who had friends and relatives lost during air operations throughout World War II and there are always tributes of a personal nature but on special occasions such as the D-Day anniversaries the memorial becomes a beacon of remembrance.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Bridge Road, Chertsey
Surrey, England, KT16 8JX
+44 (0)1932 562 405
- Address: Cooper's Hill Lane, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey, England, United Kingdom, TW20 0LB
- GPS: 51.43779167,-0.564958333
- Phone: 0044 (0)1784 433 329
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: TW20 0LB
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Very Good
- Visibility from Road: Very Good
- Image Credits: Header Image: Chrislofotos