There might be a few corners of the world where a certain birthday is going unnoticed, but that wouldn’t be Britain. Apparently, it’s a good news story and folk like a good news story. This morning I heard a radio clip of the Queen when she was very young speaking of the time when, incognito, she and Princess Margaret had joined the celebrating crowds on the Mall during VE Day, May 1945. She would have been 19 years old and it reminded me of a notice I’d recently read when visiting the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London.
More than 125,000 men flew in Bomber Command and all were volunteers. Of this number, nearly half lost their lives (55,573). Most who flew were very young, the great majority still in their late teens.
It has taken 70 years for this memorial to be erected and it was unveiled by the Queen on 28th June 2012. The memorial was designed by the architect Liam O’Connor and is made of Portland stone and echoes the nearby 19th-century Ionic Screen gate by Decimus Burton at the entrance to Hyde Park.
Within the central part of the design, raised on a plinth, stands a bronze sculpture of seven statues. These statues represent the aircrew of a World War Two bomber and were created by the sculptor Philip Jackson.
There is a dedication inscription on an internal wall:
This Memorial is dedicated to the 55,573 airmen from the United Kingdom, British Commonwealth and Allied nations who served in RAF Bomber Command and lost their lives over the course of the Second World War.
But also inscribed on one of the other walls is a message of reconciliation:
This Memorial also commemorates those of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing of the 1939-1945.
My Great Uncle Rich was a Pilot Officer who flew Lancasters in 57 Squadron. It was incredible that he survived the war.
I remember him as a quiet, gentle man who perhaps never recovered from his 80+ active flights. He did receive the Distinguish Flying Cross, but I never heard that he talked about his war experience. And, there are no stories if he joined the celebrating crowds in the Mall on 8th May 1945.
11 thoughts on “21st April 2016 – 90 not out, but let’s remember . . .”
It is a period of our common history, it should not be forgotten!
Thank you for sharing. Have a nice day.
Thank you for that positive thought – I agree heartily. Have a good evening.
Wonderful post, Agnes, and as always accompanied by memorable images. The photo of your great uncle is particularly sobering–it’s all in his eyes. We owe so much to that generation.
Thank you. It’s sometimes difficult to connect with the past, but there were millions of ordinary folk caught up in both World Wars and not just the famous names. I know that in UK schools they try to make world events more meaningful by considering the personal.
A wonderful story and images Agnes. Of all Australian battle deaths in WW2 20% were flying with Bomber Command over Europe, nearly 3500
Yes, years ago I remember somebody mentioning there were a lot of Australians in the wartime RAF. Quite a few Canadians too I think.
Hi Denis, Not sure if you have come across it, but there is an excellent book by Australian author Justin Sheedy, called Nor the Years Condemn, about young Aussies joining the Empire Air Training Scheme and serving in Europe. It is written as a novel but is extremely well researched and obviously based on true life experiences
Excellent post Agnes and very evocative photographs.
Thanks. Wish we had more photos saved from the past – my grandmother had a moment and just burned loads!
Thanks for this evocative post.
Always tricky to put a positive spin on a difficult issue, public or private.