The Runnymede Memorial

 

The Runnymede Memorial
Photographs by David Lawrence (Plane Talk Forum)


-

During the Second World War more than 116,000 men and women of the Air Forces of the British Commonwealth gave their lives in service. More than 17,000 of these were members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, or Canadians serving with the Royal Air Force. Approximately one-third of all who died have no known grave. Of these, 20,450 are commemorated by name on the Runnymede Memorial, which is situated at Englefield Green, near Egham, 32 kilometres by road west of London.

The design of the Runnymede Memorial is original and striking. On the crest of Cooper's Hill, overlooking the Thames, a square tower dominates a cloister, in the centre of which rests the Stone of Remembrance. The cloistered walks terminate in two lookouts, one facing towards Windsor, and the other towards London Airport at Heathrow. The names of the dead are inscribed on the stone reveals of the narrow windows in the cloisters and the lookouts. They include those of 3,050 Canadian airmen.

Above the three-arched entrance to the cloister is a great stone eagle with the Royal Air Force motto, "Per Ardua ad Astra". On each side is the inscription:

IN THIS CLOISTER ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF TWENTY THOUSAND AIRMEN WHO HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE. THEY DIED FOR FREEDOM IN RAID AND SORTIE OVER THE BRITISH ISLES AND THE LANDS AND SEAS OF NORTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE

The approximate break-up of the names are as follows:

Royal Air Force 15,309
Woman's Auxiliary Air Force 14
Royal Canadian Air Force 3,041
Royal Australian Air Force 1,393
Royal New Zealand Air Force 576
South African Air Force 17
Royal Indian Air Force 7
Air Training Corps 4
Air Transport Auxiliary 10
British Overseas Airways Corporation 9
Ferry Command 9
TOTAL 20,389

The seven names from the Royal Indian Air Force that are commemorated are shown below:

        
1942:
Click on the Image to see a Photo of the Complete Panel
Pilot Officer Chander Parkash Khosla  of No.12 Squadron RAF went missing when his Wellington bomber failed to return from a bombing mission over France on 31st August 1941. His co-pilot Plt Offr Rustom Nariman Dastur's body was found at Dieppe and interred at the CWGC Cemetary.

Pilot Officer Cherala Raghava Rao died on 4th September 1941 of wounds. The circumstances behind his death are not known.

Pilot Officer Anandaraj Samuel Gnanamuthu of No.32 Squadron RAF failed to return from a "Rhubarb" mission over France on 11th July 1941. His Hurricane aircraft presumably shot down by the enemy

Pilot Officer Basker Daniel Gnanamuthu, Anandaraj's brother was killed on 7th November 1941. Basker was flying a Hurricane fighter bomber. Both the Gnanamuthu brothers hailed from Coimbatore Dist, where their father Capt G D Gnanamuthu was a   Civil Asst Surgeon.

        
1944
Click on the Image to see a Photo of the Complete Panel
Pilot Officer Rajender Singh Sandhu (IND/2915) was lost on 10th September 1944, when the Spitfire he was flying went into the sea. He was flying with No.53 OTU.
        
1946
Click on the Image to see a Photo of the Complete Panel
Flying Officer Jagjit Singh (IND/2915) was lost on 13th September 1946 in the English Channel. The Wellington bomber in which he was a Navigator ditched in sea.

Pilot Officer Dinshaw Sorab Bamjee (IND/3348) was killed on 8th March 1946. He was with No.74 Squadron RAF flying the Gloster Meteor III jet fighter when he crashed during a low level flight.

  
There are other memorials in the United Kingdom where other Indian Air Force Officers are commemorated. The Golden Greer Crematorium and the Chester Cemetary are some of them.

Other Links :
1. http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=memorials/ww2mem/runnymede 
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runnymede_Memorial 
3. http://www.raf-lichfield.co.uk/runnyplaque.htm shows the RIAF Crest displayed at Runnymede