The Fleet Air Arm memorial, on the banks of the Thames, is one of many that stand together at this spot. The Battle of Britain, the Korean War and Royal Air Force memorials all being in very close proximity, outside the Ministry of Defence building in Victoria Embankment Gardens.
Forming one of many Fleet Air Arm memorials across the country, it joins others such as those at that the National Memorial Arboretum and Lee on Solent.
A more modest memorial, this one was designed by the architect James Butler RA, who has created a number of other statues and monuments in and around London.
Initially, the figure looks like an angel, but is thought to resemble Daedalus, the Greek inventor – father to Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and fell to his death.
The statue, which was unveiled on the 1st of June 2000 by his Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, stands looking down, perhaps Daedalus watching his son fall from the skies. Crafted with a pilot’s body and flying suit, but with the bare arms of a ‘God’, it wears a fallen oxygen mask that reveals a face with a look of horror, as if witnessing some awful event beneath.
The winged guardian stands on a single stone column that protrudes from a boat-like base, around which are engraved the names of the many conflicts and battles that the Fleet Air Arm have been involved in. Ranging from 1914 right up to modern conflicts such as the Falklands and the Gulf War, it shows how important the Fleet Air Arm has been to both the safety of this nation and world peace in general.
There are further inscriptions around the other sides of the base. On the front, in gilded letters, are the words ‘Fleet Air Arm’, with the crested insignia, and to the side the words:
‘To the everlasting memory of all the men and women from the United Kingdom the British Commonwealth and the many Allied Nations who have given their lives whilst serving in the Royal Naval Air Service and the Fleet Air Arm’.
Also on the base is a quote from Psalm 18:10, “He rode upon a cherub and did fly yea he did fly upon the wings of the wind”.
One of many memorials standing at this location, the Fleet Air Arm winged guardian, watches closely over the crowds below, standing as a tribute to those who gave their lives and whose bodies now rest in the deep waters of the worlds oceans.