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70th anniversary of the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) hosted Royal Air Force personnel and other guests yesterday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.

The simple ceremony, under an autumn sky appropriately broken by trails from aircraft, featured the Director General of the CWGC, Claire Horton, who spoke of the stories that deserved to be remembered. One story was told, that of Flying Officer Ronald Gibson. Mr Kerr, a relative of Fg Off Gibson, then addressed the audience, some of whom were also related to people named on the walls.

The proceedings were impeccably supported by The Band of the RAF Regiment and The King’s Colour Squadron. A local RAF Air Cadet Squadron also assisted with the events, acting as wreath bearers.

The memorial was unveiled by Her late Majesty the Queen in October 1953, one of her first ceremonial duties after her Coronation. The memorial records by name more than 20,000 men and women of the Commonwealth Air Forces from the Second World War who have no known grave; it is their primary place of commemoration.

"I am delighted to be here today on behalf of the Chief of the Air Staff, to represent the Royal Air Force as we mark the 70th anniversary of the unveiling of this profoundly important memorial by our late Queen, Elizabeth II.

The Air Forces Memorial, so wonderfully maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, is both epic in its scale, with over 20,000 personnel recorded, and deeply moving at an individual level.

Each man or woman who is named, I’ve noted 16 people for example with the same surname as mine, is a debt that we owe and a story that deserves to be remembered with respect and honour. I’m proud to say that we do remember and reflect on these stories, and that they act as an inspiration to us who serve in the Royal Air Force today."

Air Marshal Paul Lloyd
Deputy Chief of the Air Staff