- The Window of "The Crusaders"
- But they that worship the Lord shall renew their strength: they
shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary;
and they shall walk and not faint." The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 40,
- During World War II the American 386th Bomb Group, known as The
Crusaders, "mounted up with wings as eagles" flying some 263 missions
from nearby Easton Lodge airfield against Nazi targets in Europe. Nearly
200 Crusaders were lost to enemy action and many more were wounded or
taken prisoner. This "Window Of The Crusaders" depicts some of the daily
activities of the men of the 386th Bomb Group during the thirteen months
they were stationed near this church.
- The triumph of the fight for God and Right is the central theme of
this window. High in the center lancet is a figure of Christ. Above him
in the left center tracery is the Banner of Victory, symbolizing the
triumph of good over evil. To its left is the American Eighth Air Force
emblem and the American decoration, The Distinguished Flying Cross. The
right center tracery has a blunted sword, the symbol of mercy, with the
superimposed victors wreath. To the right is the American Ninth Air
Force emblem and the Air Medal.
- The lower portion of the left lancet shows a group of airmen in
front of a B-26 Marauder aircraft, perhaps as they prepare for a
mission. At the top of the left opening is a group of five Marauders
under flak attack. The "Missing Man" formation reminds us of those who
did not return. In continuation of this thought, the figure at the left
of the group of fliers is an actual portrait of a fallen comrade.
- The lower center of the window shows vehicles and men of the
dedicated ground crew. The ambulance reminds us of the many wounded
airmen. Behind them are crossed runways of the airfield and the control
tower. At the far right an airman stands with map case, helmet and life
vest, ready for the mission. Faintly seen behind him are two earlier
Crusaders with Christian banners expressing the continuity of the fight
for Right. At the top of this lancet coming in from the right are four
B-26 Marauders in flight representing the four squadrons of the 386th.
British Spitfires and American P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft escort
them towards the target.
- Although a strong, dynamic and determined figure of Christ is
flanked by implements of war, His outstretched arms over both modern and
ancient Crusaders link them in the love of God and the fight for Right.
- The Window of Friendship and Peace
- During World War II, in September of 1943, the United States Air
Force's 386th Bomb Group, "The Crusaders", arrived with their B-26
Marauder aircraft at a newly constructed airfield on the grounds of
Easton Lodge, just a few hundred yards from this church. This "Window of
Friendship and Peace" recalls in vignettes and symbols the special
relationship of mutual support, friendship, and lasting respect that
developed between the American airmen and the people of the villages of
Little Easton and Great Dunmow during the thirteen months the Crusaders
flew missions from the nearby airfield.
- The left lancet shows an American airman in conversation with a
British Royal Air Force flying officer suggesting the close co-operation
that existed between the two forces, both in the air and on the ground.
Royal Air Force Spitfires provided fighter escort and protection for
Crusader bombers on many missions. The right opening depicts an American
airman with local villagers expressing the close off duty ties with
nearby communities. Easton Lodge is depicted in the background and is
superimposed upon a globe representing the universal nature of the
conflict and the ensuing peace.
- The larger left tracery shows a dove with an olive branch,
symbolizing the Holy Spirit and Peace. The right tracery shows an eagle
in flight, a reference to the biblical theme of the west window, "they
shall mount up with wings as eagles." The two American military
decorations depicted are the Purple Heart, awarded to those who were
wounded in action, and the European Victory Medal.
- At the lower left, two hands are clasped in friendship, one British
and one American. The oak tree at the lower right calls to mind the many
beautiful oaks or, ~ the grounds of Easton Lodge that had to be
destroyed in order to construct the airfield. The oak tree is also a
symbol of strength and fortitude, two virtues much called upon by both
civilians and fighting men during the difficult pre-victory days of
World War II.
- This "Window of Friendship and Peace" and the "Window of the
Crusaders" to the left are dedicated to the nearly 200 airmen of the
American 386th Bomb Group who lost their lives during the conflict, and
to the enduring friendship and support The Crusaders experienced while
stationed here during World War II. These windows were dedicated in
October of 1990.
- The American Memorial Chapel, which is the home of the Window of the
Crusaders and the Window of Friendship and Peace, is located in the
Parish Church of the tiny hamlet of Little Easton, three miles northwest
of the village of Great Dunmow in Essex, England. The area was once part
of the Great Forest of Essex which stretched from Northeast London
almost to Thaxted.
- The present Church is of Norman origin, built during the Norman
Conquest (1066 A.D.) probably on the site of a former Church of the
Saxon era (300-400 A.D.) There is reason to believe that the site was at
one time occupied by a Roman Fort or look-out tower as there are signs
of Roman brickwork visible in the outside walls.
- The present Church tower is from the 15th century. The Nave was
begun in the first half of the 12th century. On the North wall of the
Nave above the babtismal font is the Roll of Rectors which lists all the
known rectors of the church. Also on the North wall is a memorial to the
5th Earl of Warwick of Easton Lodge and a wall painting of the Royal
Coat of Arms of King Charles II bearing the date 1660. On the South wall
eight frescoes depict scenes from our Load's Passion, probably painted
in the 15th century and restored in 1934. The Chancel was rebuilt and
enlarged in the 13th century. The East window above the Altar was placed
as a memorial to the last Viscount Maynard (1786-1865). The choir stalls
and gradine on the Altar were hand carved by the head carpenter of
Easton Lodge, George Henry Pryer (18631954).
- The Bourchier Chapel was originally built in the 15th century for
the Bourchiers of the Manor of Estaines and rebuilt and enlarged in the
17th century for the Maynards of Easton Lodge. The stained glass windows
set into the South wall were originally in the private Chapel in Easton
Lodge in 1621. After a severe fire at Easton Lodge in 1847, the windows
were moved to the Church. The wrought iron gate and railings dividing
the Chapel from the Chancel were once at Easton Lodge and were given by
the last Viscount Maynard after the fire of 1847.
- On the outside of the Maynard Chapel railings, to the West of the
gate, is a bronze memorial to actress Dame Ellen Terry (1848-1928) who
regularly visited the village and often performed in Lady Warwick's
theater now known as The Barn Theater. The memorial was sculpted by
Alfred Gilbert who also sculpted the statue of EROS in Picadilly Circus.
- The Organ Chapel, which is now renamed the American Memorial Chapel
and is the site of the new Crusader windows, was built in 1881. The pipe
organ, which is still in use, was the gift of Lady Warwick of Easton
Lodge (1891). Douglas Phillips designed and crafted the stained glass
windows being dedicated today. Mr. Phillips, who lives in Cleveland,
Ohio, is an internationally known Artist, Designer and Lecturer. A
graduate of the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Art and Syracuse
University where he majored in Portrait and illustration, Douglas
founded his Phillips Stained Glass Studio over 35 years ago. The studio
developed an early reputation in museum quality restoration and expanded
rapidly into all disciplines of stained glass and mosaic art technique.
His extensive portfolio of commissions ranges from classic through
contemporary. Although he has won awards in craftsmanship, exhibition,
design and lighting, he feels strongly that his most important mission
with each commission is to create a genuine work of art rather than just
a decorative piece. He has stated that the 386th commission for the
Crusader windows has been an important highlight in his extensive career.
- Harry Guinther, who flew 55 missions as a radio operator and waist
gunner on the 555th crew of the B-26 "Swamp Angel" served as the project
director for the 386th Bomb Group Association on the Chapel stained
glass window endeavor. The project took nearly three and one half years
from the original dedication of the American Memorial Chapel in June or
1987. He states that the most memorable elements of the project were:
1-The genuine interest and strong financial support of the members of
the Crusader Association. 2-The spirit of cooperation and dedication of
all the artisans of the Phillips Stained Glass Studios. 3-The
substantial contribution of valuable services from certain well known
"outsiders" who must remain anonymous. 4-The patient understanding of
his wife, Virginia, who offered constant support as the project became
nearly a full time task in recent months.
- Comments on the Windows of the American Chapel
- The stained glass window designs of the American Chapel in the
Parish Church of Little Easton make a statement about a time and a group
of men who were of one country and their experiences in, and their
relationships with, the people of another. They will be an inspiration
to future visitors in the Chapel as well as a lasting remembrance for
the veterans of the 386th Bomb Group Association for which the windows
- The windows are designed to have three distinct levels of
perception. The first level of perception is that of color. This is the
initial effect that occurs when one first views the windows. It is the
instant impact one feels when light is changed into color before any
figures or symbols become apparent.
- As we study the windows further, we become aware of the larger
figures and symbols. This is the second level of perception which
affords a growing awareness of the fundamental concept of the statement
made by the windows. The third level of perception covers the smaller
details that amplify the design and lasts an indefinite time during
repeated visits. Some of these may be recognized only after study over a
period of time. Accordingly, no matter how short the time a viewer has
to see the windows or how many return visits a person makes, the results
will always be rewarding.
- With further reference to the first perception, color, the basic
colors of the windows have been used in a liturgical sense. The north
window, "The Window of Friendship and Peace" has a burst of gold in its
center which is framed with tones of blue. Reds, greens and violets add
accents. The west window, "The Window of the Crusaders" has a field of
blue with rhythmic movements of gold's and reds. Green and violet are
used as accents.
- In a liturgical sense, the color gold and golden yellow expresses
the idea of celebration and joy. It also symbolizes God's goodness and
Glory. Blue is the symbol of faith, of faithfulness and of truth. Green
expresses hope, new life and the Trinity season. Red is the color of
love, of sacrifice and of the Holy Spirit. Violet is the symbol of
penitence, Christ's Passion and of Advent. These colors form simple
underlying abstract patterns in each window. The color patterns move
across the mullions in rhythmic shapes, forming a counterpoint to the
vertical architecture of the Gothic style encasements. Additional colors
are added by the various subject vignettes and symbols. These additional
colors blend with and in some instances, contrast with the background
colors, creating new patterns.
- The specific design for each window (the larger figures one becomes
aware of in the second level of perception) is drawn from it's basic
theme. In the north window, "The Window of Friendship and Peace",
figures show the relationship between the 386th airmen and the people of
the surrounding communities. The west window, "The Window of the
Crusaders" focuses on the modern World War II Crusaders of the 386th
Bomb Group and shows their relationship with the Crusaders of earlier
centuries. The triumph of the
fight for God and Right is a central theme of this window.
- It should be remembered that this war, World War II, was indeed
considered a fight of Good against Evil. Although little was known of
the Holocaust at the time, there was enough information about
persecution, treachery and oppression for the issues to be clear.
- The smaller details of the third level of perception present an
ongoing account of that moment in history in this particular place. Note
for instance in "The Window of Friendship and Peace" the almost ghostly
view of Easton Lodge, a landmark which now exists only in the memories
of those who were there. In "The Window of the Crusaders" look for the
faint rendition of the no longer existent control tower near the crossed
runways, or the wrench yielding mechanic within the cluster of 386th
ground crew in the lower center lancet.
- These two stained glass windows have been designed as unique works
of art for the American Chapel of the Parish Church of Little Easton.
They express traditional values in a contemporary form with their
luminescent brilliance a result of extracting maximum value from light
- Contemporary Windows in a Medieval Church?
- The question could be raised as to whether it is appropriate to
install contemporary stained glass windows in a church that was built
mainly between the 12th and 15th centuries. In considering this issue,
much thought was given as to whether modern windows depicting both
warriors and civilians along with fighting machines of a 20th century
war would seem out of place in the Gothic style encasements of an
- Project director Harry Guinther and artist Douglas Phillips had
serious reservations about trying to design medieval style windows in
order to tell a twentieth century story. To do so would probably have
meant utilizing a selection of Biblical themes in order to symbolize in
somewhat abstract terms what we wanted to say. Our decision was that we
could best tell our story in a straight forward, contemporary design,
simple in concept, direct in approach and dramatic in presentation.
- We noted that ever since Gothic churches and cathedrals have been
built, both in Britain and on the Continent, worshippers have installed
stained glass windows designed according to the tastes and styles of
their times. Many of the medieval stained glass windows that were
destroyed on the Continent during World War II have since been replaced
with windows done in a contemporary manner. We were also influenced by
the historical reality that art created in one period to reflect or
imitate the styles of an earlier period, usually fails.
- Our decision to express our story in the style and values of our own
times, follows the highest precedents.
- Note: Harry Guinther furnished the American Chapel Window
photos and caption data. He was a Tech Sergeant radio operator in the
555th Bomb Squadron, 386th Bomb Group. He flew with the Lieutenant
Robert Kingsley crew. May 27, 1944 they were flying their plane, "SWAMP
ANGEL" 296100 YA-O on a bombing mission to the Maison Laffitte Railroad
Bridge, located in the western suburbs of Paris, France.
- Their ship was suddenly engulfed in flak causing the left engine to
catch fire-the engine was nearly torn from its mountings and hung at an
odd angle with its propeller wind milling. The crew bailed out, except
for the pilot Lieutenant Kingsley who continued to fly the plane as it
entered into flat spin; he was killed in the ensuing crash! The plane
struck the ground in Herblay, just west of Paris where it exploded at
- Upon landing with his parachute Harry Guinther was thoroughly beaten
by five French civilians until some German soldiers arrived and took him
away, thus making him a POW. Near the end of the war he managed to
escape from his captors. Later he was picked up by some Russian
soldiers, and eventually returned to U.S. Control. He flew a total of 55
air combat missions.
- Chester P. Klier
- Historian, 386th B.G. Historian