Thursday, February 05, 2015

St Clement Danes, London: the R.A.F. church

1. St Clement Danes Church, The Strand, London
[Central church of the Royal Air Force]
2. Entrance marker at the front of St Clement Danes 
[Proclaiming its link to the Royal Air Force]
3. Statue of Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding
Unveiled by H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
(Unveiled 30 October 1988)
4. Statue of Sir Arthur Harris, Marshal of the RA.F.
Unveiled by H.M. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
(Unveiled 31 May 1992)  
 For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

The central church of the Royal Air Force

At the eastern of the Strand in London is the famous church St Clement Danes designed by Sir Christopher Wren [Photograph No. 1]. Its bells chime the tune of the famous "Oranges and lemons" nursery rhyme: one of the best loved rhymes loved by English speaking children all over the world.

Yet, during the German bombing of London in 1940 and 1941 much of Sir Christopher Wren's church building was destroyed. The most devastating raid for this building was on 10 May 1941 when incendiary bombs set fire to the building. Only the tower and the walls remained standing.

In 1953 the church building was handed over to the Air Council of the R.A.F. and they appealed for funds for its rebuilding. As a result, this historic building was completely rebuilt. It was re-consecrated as an Anglican church on 19 October 1958 and became the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. At the entrance to the church there is a marker proudly proclaiming its importance to the Royal Air Force [Photograph No. 2].

Beneath the Royal coat of arms found in the churches of the Church of England is a tablet with the following Latin inscription. It summarises the building's renaissance:


In English, this can be translated as follows:

""Built by Christopher Wren
In the Year of Our Lord 1682.
Destroyed by the thunderbolts of air warfare
In the Year of Our Lord 1941.
Restored by the Royal Air Force
In the Year of Our Lord 1958."

Thursday, 05 February, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

A visitor to the church will learn that it is a perpetual shrine for all members of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force killed on active service and those of the Allied Air Forces who gave their lives during the Second World War. There are eleven 'Books of Remembrance' containing more than 125,000 names dating from before the First World War to the present day.

Among the other features found inside the church are the following:

(a) a 'Victory Tapestry' (commemorating London at the time of her 'Finest Hour', during the Second World War);

(b) The 'Victoria Cross' panels (listing all the Victoria Cross recipients while serving in the Royal Flying Corps - Royal Naval Air Service - Royal Air Force).

(c) The Queen's Colours and Standards (awarded by the Sovereign).

Thursday, 05 February, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Honouring two R.A.F. leaders of WW2

Outside the front of the church are two statues honouring two of the R.A.F.'s leaders of WW2.

One statue is of Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command of the R.A.F. between 1936 and 1940 [Photograph No. 3]. The statue was sculpted by Faith Winter, F.R.B.S. and the architect was Mr. C.A. Hart. It was unveiled by H.M. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on 30 October 1988.

The brass tablet on the side of the plinth has the following inscription:

"Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding was Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, Royal Air Force, from its formation in 1936 until November 1940. He was thus responsible for the preparation for the conduct of the Battle of Britain.

With remarkable foresight, he ensured the equipment of his command with monoplane fighters, the Hurricane and the Spitfire. He was among the first to appreciate the vital importance of R.D.E. (RADAR) and of an effective command and control system for his squadrons. They were ready when war came.

In the preliminary stages of that war, he thoroughly trained his minimal forces and conserved them against strong political pressures to disperse and misuse them. His wise and prudent judgement and leadership helped to ensure victory against overwhelming odds and thus prevented the loss of the Battle of Britain and probably the whole war.

To him, the people of Britain and of the Free World owe largely the way of life and the liberties they enjoy today."

The second Royal Air Force statue found outside the front of St Clement Danes Church is one of Sir Arthur ('Bomber') Harris, Bt. (1892 - 1981), Commander-in-Chief of R.A.F. Bomber Command between 1942 and 1945 [Photograph No. 4]. Once again the sculptor was Faith Winter, F.R.B.S. and this time the architects were Tony Hart and Mike Goss. The statue was unveiled by H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on 31 May 1992.

A brass tablet on the side of the plinth has the following inscription:

"Marshal of the Royal Air Force
Sir Arthur Harris, Bt., G.C.B., O.B.E., A.F.C.

In memory of a great commander and of the brave crews of Bomber Command, more than 55,000 of whom lost their lives in the cause of freedom.

The nation owes them all an immense debt."

The unveiling of the statue of Bomber Harris was also notable for the last public appearance of Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, V.C., O.M., D.S.O. and Two Bars, D.F.C. (Baron Cheshire). His wife, Sue Ryder (Baroness Ryder of Warsaw, Baroness Cheshire) pushed him in his wheelchair while enthusiastic crowds cheered.

In her autobiography, Sue Ryder quotes from a letter she received from a close friend shortly after attending the ceremony to unveil the statue of Bomber Harris:

"There were three things which stood out on this occasion. There was a simple wreath of flowers saying, 'From your friends, the people of Holland'; a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a simple note attached reading 'But for you, I, as an English Jew, would have been sent to the gas chambers'; and last, but not least, another bouquet of flowers bearing the label: 'From everyone in the East End'.
[Sue Ryder, "Child of My Love", revised edition (1997), page 284].

Thursday, 05 February, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

St Clements and the Royal Air Force

The church building of St Clement Danes has managed to overcome bombing during WW2 that resulted in it almost being completely destroyed. Four times every day the bells of St Clements ring out the famous 'Oranges and lemons' chime. The simple peal of bells, known and loved by young children the world over, still rings out over London.

In its own way, this nursery rhyme honours the many men and women of the Allied Air Forces of WW2. These are the words of the famous rhyme:

'Oranges and Lemons' (the children's nursery rhyme)

"Oranges and lemons", say the bells of St. Clement's
"You owe me five farthings", say the bells of St. Martin's
"When will you pay me?" say the bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow rich", say the bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?" say the bells of Stepney
"I'm sure I don't know", says the great bell of Bow
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop - The last man's dead.

For more information about St Clement Danes Church and its connection with the Royal Air Force click on the following link:
St Clement Danes, the R.A.F. Church

Thursday, 05 February, 2015  

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