Every now and then we discover something new in the history of St Jude’s Church. (You can download a history of the Church, written in 1976 below)

We still have historical puzzles though, one is to do with a strange choice of a WWII aircraft in our East Window below, but we didn’t know what it looked like before it was damaged in the Plymouth Blitz  in WWII.

The existing East Window above has, from left to right – St George (Patron Saint of Soldiers), St Jude (Patron Saint of the Church), Jesus Christ, St Nicholas (Patron Saint of Sailors) and St Christopher (Patron Saint of Travelers but with the image below him of a WWII fighter bomber – undoubtedly intended as a Patron Saint of Airmen). The window accompanies our WWII War Memorial (on its left in this picture) and is a memorial in its own right.

Them in 2019 we finally found out what was in the main East Window prior to WWII when it was damaged in the Blitz and eventually replaced…


This (above) is the image of the pre WWII window we only came across in 2019 in a photo album of a visitor who came to see our memorials and allowed us to copy this image from the archive they had of their grandparents marriage – a wedding photo from 1930 of a clear East Window. It was undoubtedly similar to our existing West Window in the final of the three images below.

We presume this means St Jude’s was built without stained glass originally and therefore very probably a fairly low evangelical church in its origins in the 1870’s. As the 1930 image shows a canopy over the Table, it may have gone a little more catholic, including the war years, as after the War it chose the saints for the window, but maybe now, St Jude’s is back in line with its origins, a straightforward, simple, evangelical church- though now with a ‘charismatic’ twist.

But we mentioned that strange aircraft in the current East Window…


In the bottom right hand corner of our main East Window is a stained glass image of a WWII aircraft (below). It is placed below St Christopher, well known as a Patron Saint of Travellers in a larger window with St George for Soldiers, St Nicholas for sailors – and St Christopher. (As well as Jesus and St Jude)

Boulton Paul Defiant in St Judes Church, Plymouth

This window was damaged by bombing in the Plymouth Blitz and was replaced after the war with this new design as a memorial to Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen. This aircraft is patently suggesting St Christopher could represent a Patron Saint for Airmen. The puzzle – why THIS aircraft? Surely a Spitfire or a Hurricane or a Lancaster Bomber? No – this is a Boulton Paul Defiant.

St Jude’s Church sits above a major WWII rail junction and central station – Friary Station (No longer in existence though the rail line cutting is still there with a single shunting track). That is why the bombing didn’t just hit Plymouth’s Navy Dockyard, it hit housing in our area and damaged part of our site, next to this important station and line.

St Jude’s has two War Memorials. Its WWI plaque (below) has 81 local men listed – from a parish of only 0.3 square miles, and 17 of those men had been members of our Boys Brigade.

St Judes Church Plymouth WWI Memorial

However, in WWII memorial the numbers are much larger as you can see in the image below – 104 servicemen and 23 neighbours, civilians, killed in their homes or on our local streets .

St Judes Church Plymouth WWII Memorial

But our conundrum – why is the aircraft in our WWII Memorial Stained Glass Window a Boulton Paul Defiant and not a Spitfire, Hurricane or a Lancaster Bomber – they are such icons of the RAF of the era, unlike this one that took us ages to just get identified?

We have a working theory…

That one of our WWII Servicemen on our memorial was involved in some way with the Boulton Paul Defiant. The thing is we have no handed down records of why these men are listed. We have had volunteers working to try and find them and for many we’ve managed. But, we can’t find anyone with an obvious link to this aircraft. Most are Navy, some Army and some RAF but we haven’t identified them all.

The Boulton Paul Defiant had an unusual service history, from a Fighter Bomber for the Dunkirk evacuations, defending itself admirably with its rear facing guns – until the Luftwaffe recognised it and knew it had no forward facing cannon. It then served for things like Air Sea Rescue spotting and target towing. It flew within several Squadrons and there is still a single aircraft in existence at the RAF Museum who helped us identify our stained glass window image.

And so, if you are looking for something to do, would you like to help us out?

We have placed here everything we know and an image of our WWII War Memorial so you can see the names if you zoom in.

Can you find a link we’ve not managed to yet?

Can you share this puzzle with like minded friends to help spread the net?

Every Remembrance Sunday at St Jude’s we take great care to try and share something personal of one of our past parishioners.

The 2018 Silhouette installations at St Judes Church, Plymouth

In the anniversary year of the Armistice, in 2018, we filled our church with 81 silhouettes of our WWI fallen, distinguishing the Boys Brigade from the others by their caps and helmets. (See above) We can promise, if we can find this aircraft’s link to one of our fallen, we shall mark it at our next Remembrance Sunday.

Thank you so much – and we hope you enjoy the hunt to solve our puzzle!