RAF News

Royal Air Force Commemorates Men and Women of Commonwealth Air Forces

Image shows the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston laying a wreath.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston laid a wreath on behalf of the RAF and the Air Force Board.

The Royal Air Force has commemorated the men and women from Commonwealth Air Forces who lost their lives during the Second World War and, to this day, have no known grave.

The annual commemorative service took place today at the Air Forces Memorial, otherwise known as the Runnymede Memorial, near Egham, Surrey, to honour the 20,000+ service men and women of the Commonwealth Air Forces who died during World War II, and have no known grave.

Image show RAF personnel at the Air Forces Memorial, otherwise known as the Runnymede Memorial.

Representing the UK and the Royal Air Force, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC, laid a wreath on behalf of the RAF and the Air Force Board.

“Today, we paused to remember the 20,000 men and women from Air Forces across the Commonwealth who lost their lives in the Second World War and have no known grave. The Commonwealth Air Forces are still protecting our nations as we have always done. We are inspired by everyone who served before us, but especially the generation of heroes who fought for and won our freedom in the Second World War. I am conscious of the immense debt of gratitude we all share; we will remember them.”

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston
Chief of the Air Staff

Image shows veterans holding standards (flags).

Although the service this year was smaller than usual due to COVID-19, individuals from the Armed Forces and the wider community were still able to pay their respects to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today. This was due to the necessary precautions being taken to ensure the event was compliant with Government COVID-19 regulations.

Image shows the Air Forces Memorial, otherwise known as the Runnymede Memorial.
Unveiled by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, on 17 October 1953, the memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Principal Architect for the United Kingdom after the Second World War.

The Station Commander of RAF Northolt, Group Captain Nick Worrall ADC MA RAF, was also in attendance and read an excerpt of Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’.

“The Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede commemorates airmen and women who have given their tomorrow for our today. During these unprecedented times, it is an honour for me, as Station Commander, and RAF Northolt personnel to be able to represent the RAF alongside the Chief of the Air Staff on this ceremonial occasion.”

Group Captain Nick Worrall
Station Commander, RAF Northolt

Image shows RAF Air Cadets at the Runnymede Memorial service.

The Air Forces Memorial is dedicated to some 20,458 men and women from all parts of the Commonwealth, with many coming from European countries that were under Nazi German occupation who volunteered to continue the fight as members of the Royal Air Force. Personnel from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India are commemorated on the walls of the memorial as well as members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, Ferry Command, the Air Transit Auxiliary, the British Overseas Airways Corporation, and the Air Training Corps.

Image shows writing on the Runnymede Memorial.

Using Internet Explorer 8? Please switch to using Chrome if you can.