This memorial was erected to commemorate the 20,455 Second World War airmen who were lost during the during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North West Europe and who have no known grave.
It is situated on Cooper’s Hill, Egham, on land donated by Sir Eugen and Lady Effie Millington-Drake. The panoramic view from the site takes in seven counties, with Windsor Castle to the west and Heath Row to the east. It was felt that the historic associations with nearby Runnymede (the site of the sealing of the Magna Carta) and liberty would make Cooper’s Hill an ideal location for the memorial.
It was designed by the architect Sir Edward Maufe R.A., and consists of a shrine with a cloister around it. Along the walls of the cloister are listed the names of the airmen who lost their lives. From the air, the building is seen to be in the shape of a cross, and is set in six acres of parkland and gardens. On each side of the entrance is the following inscription:
“In this cloister are recorded the names of twenty thousand airmen who have no known graves. They died for freedom in raid and sortie over the British Isles and the lands and seas of Northern and Western Europe”.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the memorial on the 17th October 1953, and it was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the ceremony.
Runnymede, Commonwealth Air Forces, Magna Carta and John F. Kennedy Memorials, produced in association with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Ministry of Defence. published by Pitkin Pictorials Ltd., c.1965.