BOMBER COMMAND MEMORIAL TO COMMEMORATE THE 55,573 LIVES LOST
A major public Memorial to commemorate the tragic loss of 55,573 young Bomber Command airmen in the Second World War will be unveiled at a ceremony in Green Park, London, at 12 noon on 28 June 2012.
The event will bring together thousands of Bomber Command veterans, widows and family members from all over the world, to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of their lost relatives and comrades. The Memorial also commemorates the people of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of 1939-1945, with an inscription remembering that loss.
During the 30-minute ceremony, Her Majesty the Queen will unveil a nine foot high bronze sculpture depicting seven Bomber Command aircrew. A Bomber Command veteran will read an exhortation before the act of remembrance. The ceremony will end with a flypast by five RAF GR4 Tornado bomber aircraft crewed by today's Royal Air Force. This will be followed by a flypast by the RAF's last flying Lancaster Bomber, which will drop poppies over Green Park as a message of remembrance for the 55,573 Bomber aircrew lost.
Bomber Command veteran Alan Biffen, 87 years-old, is attending the Dedication and Unveiling event. He joined Bomber Command in 1944 and flew in 10 missions. He says:
"I find it difficult to emphasise even to my grandchildren what the Bomber Command Memorial means to me. Sometimes I look back and wonder, 'did it all really happen?'. I am so glad that at long last Bomber Command is being remembered not only for what it achieved but also for the lives of the young men who never came back. Many of them were boys. I myself added a year to my age at 16 so that I could join the Air Force.
"I am looking forward to seeing the Memorial on the day, in its rightful place in the centre of London, and maybe, just maybe, I will see an old face that I recognise."
The Memorial comes after five years of campaigning by the Bomber Command Association, and for many veterans and family members it represents closure and a long awaited acknowledgement of the significant contribution made by the 125,000 men who served in Bomber Command in World War Two.
The Bomber Command Memorial Fund secured funding from public donations and private donors, to cover the costs of the planning and construction of the Memorial. The major benefactors who contributed to the construction costs are John Caudwell, Lord Ashcroft and Richard Desmond.
Veteran Dennis Wiltshire, 93, who served in Bomber Command between 1939 and 1945 says:
"The 55,573 Bomber Command aircrew have always been in my mind. In truth, at this age, I never expected to see this Memorial being built, so it is such a relief that it has come after almost 70 years of waiting.
"The fellas are still gone but this means that families have a place to come and pay their respects, and will hopefully give younger people a better understanding of Bomber Command and the sacrifice that was made."
The RAF's leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund, will take over guardianship of the Memorial after the unveiling on the 28 June 2012. It will ensure that the Memorial continues to be a lasting tribute to the men who gave their lives serving inBomber Command and a symbol of peace and reconciliation for future generations.
Air Marshal Sir Robert Wright, RAF Benevolent Fund Controller says:
"We are honoured to take on the guardianship of this Memorial. This means a great deal to the RAF serving personnel and veterans we support every day. Our work and our programme of education and engagement will ensure that the Memorial's significance continues to be understood by future generations, as part of the debt we owe to members of the Royal Air Force, past and present."
For more information go to www.bombercommand.com or www.rafbf.org/bc