Constant Endeavour - Westminster Abbey
On Tuesday 16 March
2004 a service of thanksgiving and the dedication of a memorial to those who
served with Royal Air Force Coastal Command took place in the presence HM The Queen,
HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and HRH, Prince Michael of Kent.
The memorial, to ‘Constant Endeavour’ - Coastal Command's motto, is in the South Cloister. It is a relief carving in light grey Carrara marble and shows the sky and the sea separated by a curved horizon.
Since the Second World War, Coastal Command and its successor formations have been engaged almost continuously on operational duties such as the Atlantic Vigil during the Cold War, campaigns in Korea, Malaya, Indonesia, the Falklands, The Gulf and the Balkans.
Preparations for the service of thanksgiving were well in hand before the morning of the 16th. On the left stone mason Robbie Smith applies the finishing touches to the inscription below the tribute. (The image left will enlarge as will others on this page, click on image for larger version.)
The inscription reads:
"REMEMBER THE SACRIFICE & CONSTANT
ENDEAVOUR IN DEFENCE OF FREEDOM,
Early preparations on the morning of the 16th March. Master Air Electronics Operator Dave Muir of No 42 (R) Squadron places the unit standard in the South Cloister. Other standards on display were those of Numbers 14, 22, 39, 120, 201, 202, 203, and 206 Squadrons. These units still serving were operational within Coastal Command.
High Commissioners, Ambassadors, Visiting Dignitaries and the Lord Mayor of Westminster were received at the West Cloister. The High Commissioners and Ambassadors laid wreaths beneath the tribute prior to the arrival of Her Majesty The Queen. The memorial was flanked by a Guard of Honour by men of the Queen's Colour Squadron.
The Dedication of the Tribute, Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, His Highness Prince Michael of Kent, and The Very Reverend Dr Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster.
The Queen's Colour for the Royal Air Force and The Sovereign's Colour for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force were received by the Dean and laid upon the Altar.
There followed a Service of Thanksgiving during which the "Book of Remembrance" (sponsored by the Late Anthony Spooner DSO DFC) was borne through the Abbey. The Sermon was conducted by The Venerable Brian Lucas formerly Chaplain in Chief, Royal Air Force.
An Act of Remembrance followed with Prayers "Recalling with gratitude all who served with RAF Coastal Command and its successor formations, praising God for their resolve to defend these Islands."
A Blessing preceded the National Anthem. The Colours moved through the Quire and Nave and the congregation remained standing as the Collegaite Procession, together with Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent moved to the West end of the Church.
At 1255, by the time of Big Ben a Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft flanked by two Tornados conducted a "timely" flypast of the Abbey to the delight of the aassembled congregation. Following the Service in the Abbey there was a Reception in the RAF Club, where distant friendships were renewed as well as new one's formed. Sir John Barraclough as President of the CCMAA and of the Maritime Air Trust gave a short thank you speech praising the actions of contributors to the cause which was responded to by the Chief of the Air Staff ACM Sir Jock Stirrup.
As webmaster I am greatly indebted to John McAngus - Assistant Receiver General
Abbey and Andrew Dunsmore (Picture Partnership) for allowing the use of
pictures from the Westminster Abbey website to be used here.