A stroll around the cloisters at Westminster Abbey reveals a number of war memorials and commemorations to the victims of conflict.
Beginning with these three superbly cast bronze figures commemorating the officers and men of the Submarine Service of the Royal Navy, the Commandos, and all ranks of the Airborne Forces & S.A.S., the dates 1939-1945 on tablets between them. Designed by sculptor Gilbert Ledward and unveiled by Churchill on 21st May 1948, the three figures were modelled on serving members of the forces at the time.
The submariner was modelled on Leading Seaman Reginald Read, the inscription on the plaque below reading, ‘To the Glory of God and in memory of the officers and men of the Submarine branch of the Royal Navy who have given their lives both in peace and war. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.’
The Commando was based on a certain Company Sergeant Major Ayres, the plaque inscription reading, ‘To the Glory of God and in memory of all ranks of the Commandos who fell in the Second World War 1939-1945. They performed whatsoever the King commanded.’
The Parachute Regiment figure was modelled on Corporal Howard Elliott, the inscription on the plaque reading, ‘To the Glory of God and in memory of all ranks of the Airborne Forces and Special Air Service who fell in the Second World War 1939-1945. These were mighty men of valour.’
Beneath the parachutist, a small tablet, unveiled in 2013, remembers the men who served in The Long Range Desert Group.
The lower plaque remembers S.O.E. personnel who died during World War II,…
…the upper, Ian Fraser, blinded on the Somme, Member of Parliament and later Chairman of St. Dunstan’s. But you can read that yourselves, as you can the rest of the tablets:
MJS, this to me is a truly amazing post – I’m sure many do not realise these plaques are in Westminster Abbey. You brought back memories of my wife and me attending, along with no less than two Archbishops, Westminster in 2011 for a Cantate performed by our old schools (from Western Australia) – we sat on the seats in which the Queen and Prince Philip had sat for Wills’ and Kates’ wedding. Of course we squirmed our backsides and shoes to transfer some Royal DNA ! Well, I say my wife was already a Blue Blood having been born in a King’s Palace on the banks of the Thames at Richmond so that must make me a Blue Blood by marriage – that’s my claim anyway (modestly, I will accept tugging forelock)
Your very ‘umble servant thanks you, sir, for your kind comments, sir. Sir.
Thanks as ever for your posts.