Sensitive RAF war memorial tells a poignant story at Runnymede

Since the First World War, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has been maintaining 23,000 sites of Commonwealth war graves and memorials across the world. In 2017 it established a separate charitable foundation with a complementary role to enhance the public engagement and educational value of its sites for current and future generations. The sites are very sensitive places of quiet reflection, making any form of on-site interpretation extremely challenging, which is where Info-Point was able to help.

The RAF memorial to its war dead who have no known grave is situated at Runnymede, near to the world famous site of the signing of the Magna Carta, and not far from Heathrow airport and Windsor Castle. The Foundation was awarded funding from the Association of Independent Museums and Biffa ‘History Makers’ programme, in order to help them tell the story of Noor Khan, who was an Indian-born RAF radio operator who worked behind enemy lines during WWII - an enduringly courageous woman who was executed in Dachau prison camp.

One major challenge of telling her story to visitors is that the memorial building is a significant architectural work designed by Edwin Lutchyens. As a listed building its visual appearance cannot be altered in any way. It also lacks the staff and infrastructure found at normal heritage sites to assist visitors.

CWGC Director General, Victoria Wallace, says: “We chose Info-Point as the content delivery platform for its ability to be totally invisible, self-contained, zero-maintenance, and universally accessible via any smartphone. We engaged interpretation storyteller Kate Shrewsday to research and develop the story of Noor Khan. Digital designers and interpreters Fuzzy Duck, who are familiar with the Info-Point technology, were selected to develop and programme the interpretation content as an interactive app. Working as a team with our suppliers we overcame the hurdles and launched the new interpretation to an invited audience at the start of 2020. The experience of this project led to us working with Info-Point and Fuzzy Duck again, on providing outdoor interpretation to our visitors, and support to the Foundation’s intern guides, via their iPads, during planned conservation work at Thiepval.”