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12 Squadron and 626 Squadron of RAF Wickenby

Conflict Commemorated:WW2

Address:At the entrance of Wickenby Aerodrome, Wickenby Airport, Wickenby, Lincolnshire

Parish:Wickenby

Type of Memorial:Stone of Remembrance

Architect/ Designer:Margarita Wood ARCA DCP DIPICP (Bronze Figure)

Commisioned By:Wickenby Register (an association of former squadron members)

Materials Used:Stone and bronze.

Description:Designed and with sculpture by Margarita Wood and with an inscription by noted carver and letter-cutter Ralph Beyer.The memorial was unveiled in 1981. The memorial is located beside the gated entrance to Wickenby Airfield. It marks the southern end of the memorial walk, a line of trees between the memorial and the old Watch Office (each tree commemorates a member of RAF Wickenby personnel). The memorial consists of a tapering sandstone pylon standing on a broad three-stepped base. The tread of each step overhangs slightly, for the placement of wreaths and floral tributes. To either side of the pylon is a bronze of the two squadron badges, whilst the front face of the memorial carries the bronze figure of Icarus falling from the sky. The figure is formed of metal strips reminiscent of both the framework of Icarus?s wings made by his father Daedalus, and the airframe of the aircraft flown from the airfield. The boy tumbles head-first, crying out, and his right arm appears to have been partially torn away in the fall. ( A new 3 tier stone base was added in 2010 to replace the old base of sloped pebble and stone embedded concrete). An inscription of remembrance is carved into the stone.

Inscription:Royal Air Force/ Wickenby/ No1-GROUP BOMBER COMMAND/ 1942-1945/ IN MEMORY OF/ ONE THOUSAND AND EIGHTY MEN/ OF 12 AND 626 SQUADRONS/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES ON/ OPERATIONS FROM THIS AIRFIELD/ IN THE OFFENSIVE AGAINST GERMANY/ AND THE LIBERTION/ OF OCCUPIED EUROPE/ PER ARDUA AD ASTRA

Listed Memorial:Yes (22/02/2018)

Grade:II

Listed Memorial Reference Number:1454274

Notes on Condition:UKNIWM Ref: 20370 This memorial was given a new base and the inscription and pinnaclewere cleaned up in 2010, utilising a grant from War Memorial's Trust. Listing was applied for in January 2018.

Surveyor/ Supplier of Information:C.J.A.

Notes:RAF Wickenby opened in September 1942, built rapidly by McAlpine on land owned by Mr Bowser. 12 Squadron was based at the new station, flying Wellingtons (a medium-range twin-engined bomber built by Vickers) until converting over the Winter to Lancasters (long-distance four-engined bombers by Avro). It had been one of the early First World War Royal Flying Corps squadrons, formed on 14 February 1915 at Netheravon. In November 1943 C Flight of the squadron was used to form the nucleus of the new 626 Squadron. Together they took part in many bombing raids on enemy targets. Lancaster I ME758 of 12 Squadron was notable for having been deployed on 108 missions, whilst 626 Squadron took part in the infamous Nuremberg Raid of 30/31 March 1944: the single costliest night attack for the RAF in terms of aircraft losses. Despite the overall outcome, the 16 Lancasters of 626 Squadron participating in that raid all returned. 12 Squadron left RAF Wickenby in September 1945, whilst 626 Squadron was disbanded on 14 October 1945 having flown 2,728 sorties in only two years. The full complement of personnel had been 1,788 Royal Air Force and 287 Women?s Auxiliary Air Force. More than 1,000 serving from Wickenby during the Second World War died during the conflict. After brief use by other units the airfield was closed in 1956. Commemorating these losses, the 12 and 626 Squadron War Memorial was unveiled on 6 September 1981 by the Chaplain in Chief Royal Air Force; Rt. Rev. Frank Cocks.To end the service the last operational lancaster bomber circled the airfield four times. The Wickenby Register, formed in 1979 by a small group of aircrew who had served on station from 1942 to 1945, was responsible for its erection and also for the printing of a Book of Remembrance which is housed in the museum in the airfield Watch Office. The artist Margarita Wood ARCA DCP DIPICP designed the memorial?s bronze figure of Icarus.

Sources Used:Market Rasen Mail Saturday September 12 1981, Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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Last updated: 19 Sep 2019

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