RAF Exeter Memorial

March 27th 2012, 1100hrs  The Exeter Airport Memorial was unveiled by the Chairman of Devon County Council Cllr Jeremy Yabsley and The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Exeter Cllr Stella Brock.

The Rev Richard Peckham the S.W.A.H.T padre carried out the dedication and wreathes were laid by the Chairman of Devon County Council, The worshipful Lord Mayor of Exeter City, Richard Kornicki representing the Polish Air Force Association, Mrs Vera Cook for the Royal Air Force Association,  Lt Jerry Tribe R.N.R. for the Fleet Air Arm and Ralph Howard Williams for the Royal British Legion. The Bugler was Air Cadet James Caple. Two Standard Bearers were in attendance Ralph Cox for the Devonshire Royal British Legion and Ian Dyer for the Devonshire Royal Air Force Association. The exhortation was given by Squadron Leader Keith Lawrence a Battle of Britain Pilot who lives in Exeter.  Also in attendance was Cllr Peter Halse Chairman of the East Devon District Council, Wing Commander Brian Wills-Pope of Devon and Somerset RAF Cadets.

The ceremony concluded with the handing over of the custody of the monument to the managing director of Exeter Airport Matt Roach,

Robin Gilbert and Mike Venn who worked on this project relax with their respective partners after the event that was attended by around sixty invited guests.

 

Exeter International Airport was the site of RAF Exeter during World War Two and played a major role in the defence of our island and the liberation of Nazi occupied Western Europe.

To enlighten visitors and future generations who will be passing through the airport, the South West Airfields Heritage Trust  promoted this memorial, ensuring the historic integrity of this very important World War Two airfield is explained and maintained.

Additionally it will act as a well earned tribute to all those from many nations, who served at RAF Exeter during that period including, the Battle of Britain (July-Oct 1940).

Few people are aware that twenty two fighter pilots who came from many nations including Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Poland and U.K. were killed from R.A.F. Exeter during the Battle of Britain, among them a Squadron Leader and a Wing Commander possibly the most senior Officer killed during that short period from any RAF base in Britain.

Considerable air crew and service personal losses continued until the end of the war four years later.


About the Memorial

The sculpture depicts a fighter pilot who has returned from a major defensive mission during August 1940 over Portland, when fourteen Hurricane fighters were scrambled from Exeter to confront over one hundred and fifty enemy bombers and fighters.

During that mission Exeter lost four planes and three pilots.  The pilot who made a safe return is scanning the sky for his missing comrades.  The plinth carries five informational plaques, explaining some of  the history and acknowledges all those who served from RAF Exeter during World War Two. A sixth plaque acknowledges the major sponsors who contributed towards this project..

Now completed the plaques read

The acknowledgement plaque shown above was from a proof presentation, before minor corrections were made for the plinth, however the detail remain unchanged

 

7 comments

  1. Chris Wiseman

    It is so important to keep the history of RAF Exeter alive particularly around 1940 and the Battle of Britain when Exeter played a huge part from the airfield. Thank goodness we now have a memorial to recognise and pay tribute to the few that served out of Exeter. Well done everyone involved. I salute you.

  2. Gary K Tame

    I have just been having a look at the various articles on this site. It is a bit of a ‘walk down memory lane’. I remember spending time researching and compiling the pre-war and world war two history of who served at RAF Exeter. It still remains as one of the most interesting research projects that I have done.

    The aviation history of the Southwest of England is so interesting, I urge anyone interested in aviation history to join South West Airfields Heritage Trust.

    1. Robin

      Gary, I am a little late picking up on your comments. I would like to add your research input was a very important factor during the project. So it is good that you enjoyed working with it

  3. Peter Norris

    Very interested to learn about this much needed project. My cousin was Sgt Pilot P Norris who flew with 213 Squadron and was shot down and killed on the 13th August 1940 during his 4th flight of that day. A memorial to “The Few” here seems much needed to recognise the contribution of those who flew from RAF Exeter. I wish everyone involved all the very best with their endeavours.

    1. Robin

      Thank you Peter, I am sure you noticed Sgt P Norris is named on our Role of Honour, I also hope you spotted the sculpture will carry the rank of a Sgt. Soon we should be in a position to announce details of another large financial contribution. This project will be fulfilled but we still have to raise additional funding at this time.

  4. Mac MacDonald

    Delighted to learn that a memorial is to be created for display at Exeter Airport and I will be happy to make a donation.
    I note that the maquette is being referred to the Hendon Royal Air Force
    Museum
    May I offer a few words of caution. I was a Lancaster pilot on operations at the latter part of WW11 and I was most concerned at the museum’s officials interpretation of the kit that Lancaster crews were wearing in the Bomber Command Memorial. I found at least 10 errors in the maquettes produced by the sculptor. When I took this up with the museum (Andy Cormick) I was told that “less than adequate”” discussion took place with the artist. I have recently returned from the sculptor’s studio after viewing the 3rd full size statue -this of the Flight Engineer in a Lancaster crew and I was bitterly disappointed

    1. Robin

      Thank you for your encouragement, We are well aware of the pitfalls but every care has been taken in keeping the kit accurate to the Battle Of Britain period. As you will see we have had a very generous donation from the Polish Air Force Association, but a lot more funds are needed if we are able to provide a full sized statue, so we are most grateful for any donations. I think we can now say with confidence a WWII memorial will develop at the airport. Thanks

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