I was privileged to be a guest when the Derwent Decorative & Fine Arts Society listened to a presentation about the 158 Squadron RAF Memorial on the site of RAF Lissett, by the artist Peter Naylor.
The story of 158 Squadron encapsulates the sacrifice of the men of Bomber Command in the Second World War. 851 personnel of the squadron were killed while based at RAF Lissett. Across Bomber Command as a whole, nearly 65% of those who flew didn’t come back. Their average age was 22. They were all volunteers.
Located on the East Yorkshire coast south of Bridlington, Lissett was the closest Yorkshire RAF base to Germany. It operated from February 1943 and was abandoned at the end of the War when 158 Squadron became part of Transport Command.
When Novera Energy PLC took over the site for a wind-farm in 2007, they agreed to finance a memorial to 158 Squadron, and the design competition was won by the Beverley artist Peter Wallwork Naylor: http://www.peternaylor.co.uk/public/158_Squadron_Memorial.html.
His vision is a silhouette in 15mm weathering steel of a seven-man bomber crew, based on a photograph. The figures are eight feet high, and the composition is curved so that on the seaward, convex side, the men are marching out to fight, and on the landward, concave side, they are returning home – as so many of them were unable to do.
On the steel are engraved the names of the 851 personnel who lost their lives, placed randomly rather than in alphabetical order, with the added phrase “And for all who served with 158 Squadron”.
It’s a particularly powerful image to come across, driving down a quiet lane in the depths of East Yorkshire: http://www.158squadron.co.uk/158_Squadron_pages/158_Memorial.html.
There’s a lay-by with informative interpretation boards.
In the fields behind the memorial are Novera Energy’s twelve huge wind-turbines, made in Germany.