London has many stunning memorials and monuments scattered about its streets and gardens. The Royal Air Force memorial is just one of many visited over recent months.
The Royal Air Force memorial is located on the banks of London’s River Thames, between Embankment and Westminster tube stations.
Overlooking the river, it was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, sculpted by William Reid Dick, and completed on 13th July 1923.
The memorial consists of a bronze globe on which stands a gilded eagle with its wings spread as if about to take off. The main tapering column is of Portland stone and this forms the official Royal Air Force memorial.
The initial idea for a memorial was raised by Maj.Gen.J.M.Salmond, in a letter to the Air Ministry on 27th November 1918. Following this a committee was set up and discussions continued around the raising of funds and more importantly, how it should be spent. The leads in this committee were Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard and Lord Hugh Cecil. Eventually, on 21st January 1920, an appeal was launched with an article in the Times newspaper and the money gradually gathered.
There then followed many discussions about a suitable location for the memorial and eventually, the current location was agreed and permission given for its erection. The Architect, Sir Reginald Blomfield, decided upon William Reid Dick as the sculptor, plans were drawn up and building work started.
It wasn’t until 16th July 1923, that the memorial would be both finished and unveiled. In the presence of Sir Hugh Trenchard, and many other dignitaries, the Prince of Wales gave a moving speech highlighting the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in this new form of warfare.
Following the Second World War, further inscriptions were added and the updated memorial unveiled by Lord Trenchard on Battle of Britain Sunday, 15th September 1946. The tradition of placing a pilot’s brevet shaped wreath at its base has continued ever since.
There are a number of inscriptions around the column and base, each one referring to the dedication and loss of the men and women from the entire British commonwealth who gave their lives in both World Wars.
Even on a wet winters day, this is a stunning memorial and a beautiful tribute to those brave people.
For more information about its history go to the RAF Benevolent Fund website here. A pdf is available.