The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


A Memorial to Fallen Airmen 1939-45

This unusual and impressive Memorial Clock in the North Transept commemorates some 18,000 RAF men, based in Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland who gave their lives in the Second World War. The names include many from the Commonwealth especially Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders as well as Continental allies such as Poles, Czechs, French and Norwegians.

The idea of the memorial was proposed by the Northern Area British Legion soon after the war and the whole cost was raised by public subscription. The clock was designed by Dr R. E. Atkinson of the Royal
Greenwich Observatory and it was dedicated in 1955 with the Duke of Edinburgh delivering a tribute at the opening ceremony.

The clock has two main dials. On the east side is the Astral Dial showing the northern stars which never rise or set, such as the Pole Star the Great Bear and Cassiopeia. On the cornice above is the inscription “God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1). On the west side is the Zodiacal Dial representing the horizon as seen by a navigator flying south over York. Above is the inscription on the cornice “As dying and behold we live” (2 Corinthians 6.9). Behind rises a monumental frame of walnut wood which rises to a cenotaph surrounded by a frieze of seraphs cast in bronze. Above hangs the Cross and Crown of Christ in flaming gold symbolising the supreme sacrifice and victory over loss and death.

In front stands a case containing the Roll of Honour. The names are all in alphabetical order and not grouped by squadron or units. Spaces have been left between each letter of the alphabet and these have been filled by exact reproductions of the different types of aircraft flown by these airmen. 24 planes are depicted - Avro Anson, Beaufort, Whitley, Wellington, Stirling, Warwick, Sunderland, Hurricane, Battle, Typhoon, Tempest, Master, Meteor, Mosquito, Spitfire, Walrus, Blenheim, Beaufighter, Lancaster, Halifax, Tiger Moth, Lysander, Mustang and Catalina. Above is inscribed They went through the air and space without fear and the shining stars marked their shining deeds.

Other Bomber command memorials can be seen elsewhere. The Runneymede Memorial commemorates all the missing men of Bomber Command who have no grave and only last year a fine memorial was unveiled in Green Park London. In Ely Cathedral four parallel stained glass windows can be seen as well as a Book of Remembrance listing all those who served in Cambridgeshire and the Fenland area. At Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire there is a fine memorial to the famous Dambusters of 617 Squadron and on the top of Beachy Head there is another Bomber command memorial. Finally plans are currently under way to erect an imposing 50 metre steel spire, designed by Walter Jack, on Canwick  Hill overlooking Lincoln Cathedral. On it will be inscribed 25,611 names of those killed whilst flying from Lincolnshire air bases. It will be called the Spire of Names.

John Symonds

Autumn Edition 2013

The Astronomical Clock, York Minster