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Photographer: Anthony Ainslie

Memorial to Derek Lutyens

Gazetteer No. G0294

Date 1918

Address Highfield Lane Thursley, Surrey GU8 6QQ England


Lieutenant L F D Lutyens, known as Derek Lutyens, (19 November 1894-8 May 1918) died at age twenty-three while serving at Farnborough with the Experimental Squadron of the Royal Air Force. According to the CWGC, “It is believed the aircraft in which he died was being flown for pressure tests on its tail plane, and it was the failure of the tail plane that caused the crash.” Derek Lutyens was buried in the churchyard of St. Michael and All Angels in Thursley. His grave is marked by a private memorial designed by his uncle Edwin Lutyens, a precursor to the many memorials and cemeteries commemorating the First World War that Edwin Lutyens would go on to design.

The memorial is a simple, yet elegant stone cross that tapers outward toward the base before flaring onto a square base which in turn sits on top of a larger square of stone with a chamfered transition. Bronze markers on the vertical edge of the smaller square and on the angled chamfer read “IN PROUD AND LOVING MEMORY OF” “DEREK LUTYENS / BORN NOVEMBER 19TH 1894 / DIED FOR HIS COUNTRY / AGED TWENTY THREE YEARS OLD / LIEUTENANT ROYAL AIR FORCE”. On the vertical face of the lowest block are quadrilateral-shaped bronze plaques giving the date and year of his death: May 8th on one, 1918 on the other. Another bronze plaque was designed for the intersection of the arms of the cross – a bronze RAF eagle: wings flanking a laurel wreath with the initials RAF at the center of the wreath. Above the wreath is a crown, while below the wreath is the “PER ARDUA AD ASTRA”. (Per ardua ad astra is the official motto of the Royal Air Forces, a Latin phrase meaning “through adversities to the stars”.) The original of the bronze RAF eagle was apparently stolen and has been replaced by a replica. (Contributor: Robyn Prater)


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