RAF 100 – Guided London Walk

100 years of Royal Air Force: a guided walk through Westminster. Blue Guide Lulu Martyn-David (2017 walk: Soho) will guide us around the City of Westminster to tell us about many associations with the RAF, on Saturday 8 September at 11 am, from Old Palace Yard, London.

From the announcement in the Summer Newsletter:

Last March Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork MBE, BA, FRAeS gave his highly successful Unilever lecture about the operations of the Dutch squadrons within the Royal Air Force (RAF) during WWII. Now the ANS is proud to announce a guided tour through the City of Westminster celebrating the centenary year of the RAF.

The RAF is the oldest air force in the world. It was founded at the end of the First World War on April 1st 1918. The City of Westminster always played an important role in the history of the RAF. There are many connections including the original headquarters on the Strand, statues of key figures in the history of the RAF, monuments to significant events and memorials to people, organisations and nations. In addition, there is much to tell about the men and women of the service and their links with the City of Westminster.

City of Westminster Guide, member of the City of Westminster Guide Lecturers Association and long-standing ANS member Lulu Martyn-David will conduct this private guided walking tour. Last year Lulu also led us on the fascinating walk through London’s Soho neighbourhood.
Because of this special occasion, the City of Westminster Guide Lecturers Association will this time donate 25% of the tour fee to the RAF100 Appeal. The RAF100 Appeal is a joint venture between the Royal Air Force and four major RAF charities – the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Forces Association, the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust and the Royal Air Force Museum. The aim of the Appeal is to raise money for the RAF Family and to create a lasting legacy as 100 years of the Royal Air Force is celebrated.

Please join us to explore the prime locations linked with events featuring in the RAF’s 100 years history and discover impressive statues and other memorials commemorating people, military and civilian, who helped build the RAF service. This walk will end at the spiritual home of the RAF.


From the report in the Autumn Newsletter:

Royal Air Force Centenary: iconic places in Westminster

Report, by Ann McMellan, of the guided tour on Saturday 8 September

To commemorate and celebrate the founding of the RAF on 1st April 1918, the City of Westminster Guide Lecturers Association planned a two-hour walking tour to highlight Westminster’s many links to the RAF. On Saturday 8th September 17 ANS-walkers joined Events Committee Organiser Chantal Tjon and our official WGLA Guide and fellow ANS member, Lulu Martyn-David.

Passing beneath Westminster Abbey’s RAF Chapel’s memorial stained-glass windows, the group headed into Parliament Square to view three political statues. During WWI Lloyd George’s visionary commitment to air power was initially for defence whilst Jan Smuts, a member of the War Cabinet, advocated the need to combine the roles of naval pilots and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) into a single unified service – the first independent Air Force. Winston Churchill’s enthusiasm for aviation ensured the development of the RAF as he foresaw its wider role.

On the Embankment time was given to study Paul Day’s wonderful sculpture in memory of all RAF personnel who contributed to victory in the Battle of Britain, which began at 1am on 10th July 1940 and lasted until midnight on 31st October 1940. The heroism of The Few who fought so courageously was acknowledged in Churchill’s quotation from Shakespeare when Henry V rallies his weary army prior to the battle of Agincourt, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”. The details of the 544 from Fighter Command who died are listed and one in six came from another country such as Poland, New Zealand, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and South Africa, Our next halt was to read the inscription, “I bear you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself”, beneath the splendid golden eagle atop William Reid Dick’s 1923 memorial to the RFC.

Behind the Ministry of Defence a new VC pavement recorded a poignant family loss. Born in Westminster, William Rhodes Moorhouse completed his mission on 26th April 1915 to bomb a Belgian railway junction but died the next day from his wounds, 95 bullets having been fired into his plane. He was the first airman to be awarded the VC. In WWII his son, also William, joined the RAF, served at the same aerodrome in France and sadly was later shot down and killed over High Brooms, Kent. A second airman and holder of the VC, Ferdinand West , is also commemorated here. Other features behind the Ministry included statues of Lord Portal of Hungerford and Lord Trenchard, the ‘father of the RAF’ together with the Daedalus statue in recognition of the Fleet Air Arm, War Memorials for Korea, The Chindits and for Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter was the first war in which women took on an operational role within the Service and the first DFC was awarded to a woman.

From the Cenotaph and the striking Whitehall Memorial acknowledging Women’s many WWII services and contributions, the group moved via The Strand with various reminders of Commonwealth involvement, other branches of RAF services, to the original home of the RAF and finally to St Clement Danes, rebuilt 60 years ago as the RAF’s Central Church.

Fittingly Polish Scouts and Cadets were gathering there in readiness for the service of thanksgiving and remembrance for fallen Polish airmen and the Centenary of the Polish Air Force.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.