RAF Coastal Command
Field: Airman
Location in the Abbey: South cloister
Type of memorial: Tablet
Type of material: Marble

On 16 March 2004 Her Majesty the Queen dedicated a memorial in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey to RAF Coastal Command. A relief carving in light grey Carrara marble depicts the sky and sea, with the sky overlaying an outline of the world set above a breaking sea and separated by a horizon line (of great importance to flyers). An eagle at top left symbolises mastery of the skies. Cut in the wall below is the badge of Coastal Command and motto "Constant Endeavour" with the inscription:

"Remember the sacrifice & constant endeavour in defence of freedom of the men and women of Royal Air Force Coastal Command, their successors & their comrades in the Commonwealth, Allied and overseas squadrons"

The memorial was carved by Neil and Richard Talbot and the artistic adviser was Sir Philip Dowson of the Maritime Air Trust. The span is approximately eight feet. A roll of honour is displayed in a case in the nave of the Abbey.

It was unveiled to mark the 60th anniversary in 2003 of the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic. Just over half of the sinkings of U-boats were due to Coastal Command and it located the German battleship Bismarck which was sunk by the Royal Navy. Photo-reconnaissance and meteorological flights were also an important part of their role as well as air-sea rescue. Their zone of operations was vast, from Iceland to Gibraltar and the Azores as well as other overseas commands from the Arctic to the southern oceans. Four Victoria Crosses were won by aircrew and 10,875 lives were lost. Since the Second World War Coastal Command and its successor formations have operated in conflicts in Korea, Malaysia, the Falklands and the Gulf.

A photo of the memorial can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

 

Two DVDs have been issued: "Coastal Command at War" and "RAF Coastal Command - the unseen films"

© 2017 The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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