Barnes Wallis Grave Effingham Lettering

Sir Barnes Wallis and his Headstone…

In his spare time, our Senior Estimator, Duncan Ansell, is a Civilian Instructor with the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC). Recently, he undertook a project that combined his professional expertise with his volunteering work with his cadets…

Most of us remember Sir Barnes Wallis as the inventor of the dam-busting bouncing bomb but his design and engineering achievements go much further and encompass airships, geodetic framed fuselages (for both Wellesley and Wellington aeroplanes) as well as other incendiary devices.

Wallis died in 1979 at the ripe old age of 92 and is buried at St Lawrence’s Church, Effingham, Surrey. His grave reflects his extraordinary achievements on a deliberately modest Cumbrian slate headstone but, like all things left to face nature, it had become a little in need of some TLC. Following conversations with the church and others – and in good time for a ceremony marking the reformation of 617 Squadron – Duncan and his cadets undertook to clean the headstone and grave. Using a specialist pressure washer, the headstone was first returned to its original look and then the lettering was painted a simple white by a monumental mason. The grave itself was tidied, though it had always been kept in good repair. The result keeps the quiet simplicity but allows visitors to read the epitaph – now, and for many years to come.