Captain Eric Lubbock's Memorial at High Elms Country Park, Bromley - commended by Historic England as an 'eloquent witness' to the growing importance of the air services and their sacrifices during the First World War (Photo: Centenary News)

War Memorials ‘listed’ for RAF Centenary

Posted on on 04 April 2018
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Fourteen war memorials have been newly listed or upgraded for conservation by the UK Government to mark the 100th birthday of the Royal Air Force.

They include monuments dedicated to Major James McCudden, the most decorated British ‘ace’ of the First World War, and Captain William Leefe Robinson, the first British pilot to shoot down a German airship in 1916.

Both served with the Royal Flying Corps, which was merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the RAF on 1 April 1918. Neither man survived the Great War.

Also newly-listed is an unusual memorial in the shape of a plane dedicated to Captain Eric Lubbock, who was shot down over Belgium in 1917. 

Heritage Minister Michael Ellis said: "From the pioneering pilots of the First World War, to the heroism of the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force has a proud and distinguished wartime history.  As we mark its centenary, it is right that we remember the stories of the brave pilots and staff who served in defence of Britain. These listings commemorate this legacy and preserve these historic memorials for future generations."

All 14 memorials, including a Second World War site, have been designated on the advice of conservationists, Historic England.

James McCudden and his three brothers, all of them airmen, are commemorated on the McCudden War Memorial and Grave at Maidstone Road Cemetery in Chatham, Kent. Major McCudden, a recipient of both the Victoria Cross and the Croix de Guerre, shot down 57 aircraft. He died in July 1918 after a crash caused by an engine fault.

The memorial obelisk to William Leefe Robinson stands in the Hertfordshire village of Cuffley, close to where he brought down the German airship SL11 on 3 September 1916. Leefe Robinson attacked the Schütte-Lanz (a competitor airship to the Zeppelin) with newly-developed incendiary ammunition, setting it on fire. He was immediately acclaimed as a national hero, and awarded the Victoria Cross. 

Leefe Robinson was himself shot down over France on 6 April 1917 and held as a prisoner-of-war. Repatriated in December 1918, he died in the global flu pandemic.

Captain Eric Lubbock’s Memorial, at High Elms Country Park in the London Borough of Bromley, was erected after he was killed in action when his plane was shot down over Belgium in March 1917. It was commissioned by his grieving mother, Lady Avebury, who asked that the memorial take the form of an aircraft and be placed in the family graveyard at High Elms in Bromley.

The estate was sold in the 1930s and became the responsibility of Bromley Council. In 1981, the council moved the memorial from the burial ground into the grounds of nearby St Giles’ Church.  It then went missing and was found a decade later in a stonemason’s yard in Wiltshire. The memorial was put up for auction and the Avebury family bought it back for £8,000. It was restored and re-sited in 2010 in what was the walled kitchen garden of the family estate and now forms part of High Elms Country Park.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: "The listing and upgrading of these war memorials dedicated to members of the air services helps to tell the story of Britain’s wartime aviation history and marks the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force. They commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of Britain’s pilots of both the First and Second World Wars."

Visit Historic England for details of the 14 memorials.  This latest announcement is part of a centenary programme to record, conserve and list memorials of the First World War.

See also in Centenary News:

WW1 Memorials built in 1917 listed for conservation.

Passchendaele Centenary memorials given heritage protection.

Historic U-boat wreck photos released for WW1 submarine centenary.

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team