The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior

If you should come into the Abbey through the West Door and into the nave, you will walk over the memorial to Sir Winston Churchill, but  everyone, whether commoner or Queen, walks around the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

This is the last resting place of a British soldier, “known only to God” and is a commemoration of British war dead, conceived in the aftermath of WW1. The red flowers around it are paper poppies, a symbol of remembrance from a First World War poem – “In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row”. Poppies thrive in ground that has been churned up, so the bombed out land and the grave sites away from the front line encouraged their blooms.

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Reginald Warneford – first destroyer of a Zeppelin

IMG_0113-225x300In Brompton Cemetery stands this wonderful monument to Reginald Warneford, the first man to destroy a Zeppelin in combat, over Belgium on 7 June 1915. He didn’t shoot it down, but dropped bombs on it – the resulting explosion almost killing him in the process.


Warneford’s own account provides lots of colour:


I left Furnes at 1:00 am on 7th June 1915 … under orders to look for Zeppelins and attack the Berchem St Agathe Airship Shed with six 20lb bombs.


On arriving at Dixmude at 1:15 am, I observed a Zeppelin … and proceeded in chase… I arrived at close quarters a few miles past Bruges at 1:50 am and the Airship opened heavy maxim fire, so I retreated to gain height and the Airship turned and followed me. At 2:15 am it stopped firing and 2:25 am I came behind, but well above the Zeppelin; height then 11,000 feet, and switched off my engine to descend on top of him. When close above him at 7,000 feet I dropped my bombs, and … there was an explosion which lifted my machine and turned it over. The aeroplane was out of control for a short period, went into a nose dive, but control was regained. I then saw the Zeppelin was on the ground in flames.”

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