OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 30, 2017.
Webpage updated: June 30, 2017

        

PLYMOUTH HOE

ROYAL AIR FORCE AND ALLIED AIR FORCES MONUMENT

The Royal Air Force and Allied Air Forces Monument is on Plymouth Hoe, close to the National Armada Memorial.  It is dedicated to those men and women who served during the Second World War, both in the air and on the ground.

It was the inspiration of Mr Jim Davis, a former rear gunner on the Lancaster during the Second World War.  He and the former commander of the Pathfinder forces, Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett, fought for over nine years to have this monument erected on the Hoe and it is the only international air monument in the world.

The monument was unveiled by Air Marshal Sir John Curtiss, in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Mr Dennis Dicker, on Sunday September 3rd 1989, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the declaration of War.  Among the several hundred RAF veterans who paraded that day were representatives from seventeen countries, including the USA, the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Granite has been used for the main body of the Monument, on top of which is the six-feet tall, bronze statue of the Unknown Airman, sculpted by Mrs Pamela Taylor.

At the base of the Monument are buried the ashes of Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett, the wartime commander of the Pathfinder Force of Bomber Command.

The inscription on the front of the Monument reads:

ROYAL AIR FORCE
COMMONWEALTH & ALLIED AIR FORCES
1939 - 1945
TRIBUTE
TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF GREAT BRITAIN
AUSTRALIA, CANADA, INDIA, NEW ZEALAND
RHODESIA AND SOUTH AFRICA
BELGIUM, CZECHOSLOVAKIA, DENMARK,
FRANCE, GREECE, THE NETHERLANDS,
NORWAY AND POLAND
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS,
AND THOSE OF MANY OTHER NATIONS WHO SERVED
IN ALL COMMANDS OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCES
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR.

THEIR COURAGE, SKILL AND DEVOTION TO DUTY
WAS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER,
BY WINNING THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN, THE MEN
SAVED THE COUNTRY FROM INVASION IN 1940.
"NEVER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT WAS SO MUCH OWED BY SO
MANY TO SO FEW"                                                         CHURCHILL

COASTAL COMMAND PLAYED A VITAL ROLE IN
KEEPING THE SEA LANES OPEN
THE COMMANDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA AND
THE FAR EAST, MADE GREAT CONTRIBUTIONS
TOWARDS FINAL VICTORY.

FROM THE OUTBREAK OF THE WAR THE BOMBER
OFFENSIVE STEADILY INCREASED AND AFTER
THE FORMATION OF THE PATHFINDER GROUP IN 1942
VERY SEVERE DAMAGE WAS INFLICTED ON THE
ENEMY BY THE CONSTANT NIGHT AND DAY
OPERATIONS CARRIED OUT BY BOMBER COMMAND
AND THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE.

CONTROL OF THE SKIES OVER EUROPE IN 1944
WAS A VITAL FACTOR TO THE SUCCESS OF THE
NORMANDY LANDINGS, THE COMBINED EFFORTS OF
TACTICAL AND BOMBER COMMANDS AND
THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE THEN SPEARHEADED
THE ALLIED ADVANCE ACROSS EUROPE.

THE INSPIRED LEADERSHIP OF BENNETT, DOWDING,
HARRIS, PORTAL, SLESSOR AND TEDDER OF THE
ROYAL AIR FORCE AND ARNOLD, EAKER AND SPAATZ
OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, PAVED THE WAY
TO VICTORY IN 1945.
"NOW AT LAST THE BOMBER COMMANDS HAVE WON THE AIR BATTLES OF
EUROPE, OPENING THE PATH FOR VICTORY AND FREEDOM FOR THE
ENSLAVED COUNTRIES OF EUROPE"                                 CHURCHILL 1945

HONOUR
107,000 MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE
84,000 MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
42,200 MEMBERS OF THE SOVIET AIR FORCE
WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE

THEY FLEW BY DAY AND NIGHT
AND GAVE THEIR LIVES TO KEEP FOREVER BRIGHT
THAT PRECIOUS LIGHT
FREEDOM
 

 

The inscription on the right, or eastern, panel reads:

High in the velvet mantle of the night
Alone with just the moonlight on their wings
The majestic silence of the vast universe
Made them feel the presence of the King-of-Kings
The nights were long as endless as the sky
Night after night their nerves were tightly drawn
And quietly they prayed he'd guide their homeward flight
That they may live to see the beauty of the coming dawn.

J Davis

 

The inscription on the left, or western, panel reads:

Almighty and all present power,
Short is the prayer I make to thee;
I do not ask in battle hour,
For any shield to cover me.
The vast unalterable way,
From which the stars do not depart
May not be turned aside to stay
The bullet flying to my heart.
I ask no help to strike my foe,
I seek no petty victory here;
The enemy I hate, I know
To thee, O God, is also dear.
But this I pray, be at my side
When death is driving through the sky.
Almighty God, who also died,
Teach me the way that I should die.

H R Brodie

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