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Bomber Command Memorial (Merged)

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Bomber Command Memorial (Merged)

Old 17th Aug 2008, 14:50
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Bomber Command Memorial

I note that BCA have opened a fund for public contributions on this website but how is this going to reach the general public? I haven't seen or heard any appeal in the national press or on television channels. Are there plans to go that way?
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Old 17th Aug 2008, 16:01
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Therein lies the rub I suspect Hugh. HF/BCA seem to be going for a series of small soundbites, pieces to camera (at IWM, Hendon etc), interviews with the likes of yourself, as the most that the 'media' will accommodate at any one time. Even then the take up appears patchy or only local. "It was all a long time ago and we've moved on since then", I can almost script the editorial meetings especially at the Beeb! Somehow we have to reeducate 2 or 3 generations brought up on "Peace Studies" to just how much we all owe your generation for ensuring we live in a free democracy. The only people who seem to appreciate that these days are those newly arrived from Eastern Europe. Their countries knew the reality of the the three o'clock in the morning hammering on the door. If the armbands of those who came for you were emblazoned with Swastikas or Hammers and Sickles, it was of academic interest only as no one would see you again.
The London BC Memorial, the Country one, the plans of BCH for RAF Bicester are all part of that education. Trouble is there is a Catch 22 here. How to educate people with the importance of providing these memorials so that future generations can in turn be so educated?
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Old 1st Sep 2008, 14:33
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Hi Chugalug2,
I have just come across the website - www.associations.rafinfo.org.uk/bombercommand-memorialnews.htm
and realise that a lot more is going on to raise awareness and funds to get a memorial built than was evident to me. Let us get more people informed and keep up the pressure to achieve this worthwhile project.
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Old 2nd Sep 2008, 18:56
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Hi Hugh!
Great site, I see it is hosted by the 207 Squadron Association, and endorsed by the Aircrew Association and the Bomber Command Association, so well done all three! There does seem to be some momentum developing doesn't there? Inevitably such projects take time to become established in peoples minds. The trick is to keep it there. Mr Gibb and HF seem to be set on just that. One thing that surprises though, there is still no mention of charitable giving. If they so registered it creates a great incentive for people to send in there pounds, as that nice Mr Darling will then add 28p for each one! Hopefully that is in the pipeline.
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Old 6th Oct 2008, 14:27
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From No 10 - just about what we expected I think.

We received a petition asking:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to erect a National Memorial to RAF Bomber Command.”
Details of Petition:
“Erect a National Memorial in London to the over 55.000 brave young men who gave there lives1939-45 and played such a large part in gaining Victory in Europe,I applaurd the magnificent memorial to the’Battle of Britain’and feel that Bomber Commd.deserve the the same honour.Also appeal for public donations towards same.”
· Read the petition
· Petitions homepage
Read the Government’s response

The Government recognises the considerable contribution and great sacrifices made by members of Bomber Command during the Second World War, and in May 2008 the Prime Minister wrote to the Heritage Foundation offering his personal best wishes for their campaign for a national memorial.
Although the UK Government, through the Ministry of Defence, is responsible for the funding of the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to commemorate, and maintain the graves of, some 1.7 million Commonwealth Service personnel who died in the two World Wars, it does not sponsor either statues or memorials, military or otherwise. These usually result from private initiatives, which not only provide the initial funds but also endow the necessary funds for the upkeep of the statue or memorial in question.
A number of memorials to Bomber Command do exist, notably at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and at Lincoln Cathedral.

------------------------------------------------

However, with the efforts of Frederick Forsythe and Robin Gibb it seems they are making some headway.

We can only hope.
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Old 6th Oct 2008, 16:04
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All the more important then that as many people as possible come to Duxford on Saturday 29th November, for the major gathering of Bomber Command veterans, in the Airspace hangar, positioned around the Lancaster. They will be signing books and prints, with all proceeds going towards the proposed memorial. Come on chaps, let's show them we care!
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Old 6th Oct 2008, 16:37
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and in May 2008 the Prime Minister wrote to the Heritage Foundation offering his personal best wishes for their campaign for a national memorial
A fat lot of good those are.
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Old 9th Oct 2008, 19:27
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Not only no help with the Bomber Command Memorial, but no to a campaign medal as well.

Thursday 9 October 2008
ForgottenRAF - epetition response


We received a petition asking:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to award a campaign medal to all members of Bomber Command in World War 2.”

Details of Petition:
“ALL members of Bomber Command were volunteers and some 55,000 were killed. My late father, Freddie Watts DFC was a pilot who served with 617 Squadron and 630 Squadron. He was lucky - he survived - but felt very strongly to his dying day last year that Bomber Command was ignored because what these incredibly brave young men did is now not considered “politically correct”. They were prepared to do their duty for their country in order to beat the Nazis. They were on the sharp end of the conflict and death was almost a certainty but they still did their duty. 30,000 of these true heroes still survive, surely it is time to recognise them.”
·

Read the Government’s response

The Government is aware of the widespread admiration for the major contribution that the crews of Bomber Command made to the Allied victory in World War II and their commitment in the face of significant losses. However, the institution of medals quite rightly is not in the gift of politicians. While the Armed Forces can prepare a case that seeks to justify the institution of a new medal, there are many processes through which submissions must first pass and ultimately this would need to be approved by HM The Queen.
The procedures which lead to the institution of a British award have been followed for many years, with only minor changes. The process starts if the Commander in Chief considers that service in that theatre, or under particularly rigorous circumstances, justifies a medal. His recommendation is passed to senior military officers who, if they are in agreement, submit the case for a medal to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS). If the CDS approves the proposal, the Defence Services Secretary submits the case to the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals, known as the HD Committee, through the Ceremonial Officer at the Cabinet Office. The HD Committee consider the case and, if it agrees it has merit, submits it to The Sovereign for approval. There is no direct Ministerial or political involvement with the Committee.
Since the end of World War II, the HD Committee has maintained a consistent policy that it will not consider the belated institution of awards and medals for service given many years earlier. The reason for this policy is that the present HD Committee cannot put itself in the place of the Committee which made the original decision and which would have been able to take account of the views of all interested parties at the time. A dedicated medal for Bomber Command was considered by the HD Committee of the time and it was decided that the institution of such a medal, or indeed one for Coastal Command, South East Asia Command etc, was not appropriate.
It is true that a decision was taken in 2003 that a medal should be issued retrospectively to veterans who served in the Suez Canal Zone between October 1951 and October 1954. However, this case was unique. Unlike Bomber Command, where there was clear evidence that the HD Committee had considered the case for a dedicated medal, but decided against it, there was no conclusive evidence that the case for a medal for the Canal Zone in the early 1950s had ever been considered by those in command at the time.
Finally, no medals were awarded purely for service in a particular Command during World War II. Those who completed the minimum qualifying period of service in operational areas were eligible for the 1939-45 Star and those with long service in non-operational areas received the Defence Medal. In addition to the 1939-45 Star and Defence Medal, a series of Campaign stars were created for participants in particularly hazardous campaigns, and many Bomber Command personnel qualified for the much prized Aircrew Europe Star or, for example, the France and Germany Star.
We have set out the procedures in some detail because we want to make it clear that there is an exhaustive process for making these decisions that asa far as possible ensures consistency and fairness.
We hope this explains the situation.
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Old 10th Oct 2008, 23:41
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S'land:
Not only no help with the Bomber Command Memorial, but no to a campaign medal as well.
As regards the latter I'm afraid that petition was really never likely to succeed, as a campaign medal is defined by time and place. In the case of the Bombing Offensive that place is in enemy skies, principally those of the Third Reich. Thus in most cases only BC Aircrew would qualify even if a "Battle of Germany" (to borrow Harris's description) Star were to be struck which of course hasn't happened to date. Calling for the award of a Campaign Medal for all members of Bomber Command in WW2 simply made it easier for the Government to reject the petition. Of course we all know that Harris called for a Bomber Command Medal, a different thing entirely, which would have gone against all precedent as the UK has never (AFAIK) awarded a medal for simply belonging to a particular military formation. Should the Bombing Offensive against Germany 1939/45 have been awarded its own Star? Of course! Will it now? I very much doubt it. Those who were awarded the Aircrew Europe Star before D-Day are perhaps content with that. Those who earned the later France and Germany Star for the same hazardous work might feel somewhat aggrieved given that the same star was also earned by those in the Army's rear echelons in liberated territory. All the more reason for a National Bomber Command Memorial where the Nation can truly pay tribute to these brave men, both those who died and those who survived. That has to happen.

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Old 13th Oct 2008, 23:23
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I am not sure if this should be posted here or elsewhere, so if it is in the wrong place would the mods please move it.

One of the main obstacles to any sort or award/memorial to Bomber Command has been the oft quoted high number of deaths in the Dresden raid of 13 April 1945. The PC brigade often quote the figure of 500,000 deaths. Revisionist “historians” such as David Irving claim that this figure puts AVM Harris and his staff on a par with the Nazis as responsible for a genocide type campaign. Ever since I first heard of the Dresden raids this figure has always been quoted.

However, a recent investigation by 13 German historians has revealed that a maximum of 25,000 people died NOT 500,000. In fact they have only verified 18,000 so far and consider that the final figure will probably be around 20,000. Please note that it is German historians, not allied, who have made this research.

After the bombing the Dresden authorities estimated that the death toll was around 25,000, but the Nazi propaganda chiefs circulated higher figures.

I know that it is terrible that 25,000 people died, but has been said by another contributor, terrible things happen in war.

It seems strange that the only reference to this research in the UK is the article in the DT given below.


Dresden bombing death toll lower than thought - Telegraph

Why does it say that I posted this "Yesterday at 15.24"? I posted this today at 00.25.
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Old 14th Oct 2008, 23:23
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S'land I would hope that the Mods would not wish to remove your post from this thread, it needs everyone that it can get and certainly one as central to the issue as yours! Say "Bomber Command in WWII" and within seconds Dresden will be mentioned. I have never understood why the inhabitants of that city should have been spared as against any other in the Reich, but just as with the direction that the Belgrano was steaming when torpedoed, this has become the sound bite on which to hang the entire Bombing Offensive against Nazi Germany in WWII, and strangely only by Bomber Command as against the USAAF. Was the bombing of Dresden by both Air Forces an evil thing? Yes! Was the whole damn war an evil thing? Yes! Was the greater evil not fighting that evil regime in Berlin and overcoming it? Yes! If you have to fight a war you should do so to win, as thoroughly and as quickly as possible, right to the end. That is what we did, and the overwhelming method used was Strategic Bombing, with all the inherent technological limitations that implied even in 1945. I should like to know how else we could have won otherwise. I should like to know how else we could have landed the armies to liberate Europe, including Germany, otherwise. Or is the DS solution to have left it all to the Red Army? In that event our laws would now be being passed in Berlin or Moscow (rather than Brussels!), either way 1,000 years might well have been a reasonable guesstimate for such an Empire to last.
If those who find the figures pushed out by Goebbels more comforting in reinforcing their prejudices wish to slur the British High Command for this campaign that is their democratic privilege. If in doing so they seek to deny the proper recognition of those who fought night after night from the start to the end of the war, as often not surviving, that is unacceptable and a dreadful shame on this nation for letting such sentiments prevail.
P.S. As regards the PPRuNe clock, it has a rather endearing will of its own, defying all attempts to make it conform. I cannot but admire its wilfulness!
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Old 18th Oct 2008, 10:13
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So now the public know about our Memorial. According to this morning's daily, seven bronze statues of a bomber crew, facing outwards in Regents Park. It is a pity it couldn't include a wall with names inscribed but a notable Memorial is good news. Now we ex-bomber aircrew can feel relief that our fellow crews are going to be remembered for their supreme sacrifice against terrific odds.
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Old 18th Oct 2008, 13:55
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Is this the story Hugh?:
Sixty years late, a wrong is righted as bomber heroes will be given a fitting memorial | Mail Online
Great news indeed, and as to the names, yes of course they must be featured, but on a London Memorial it was always a tall order given that we are talking of >55,500 names. All the more reason then for a second larger memorial, a truly national one as against yet another in the capital, that is more central, accessible, and at a perfectly preserved Bomber Command station in its original form. RAF Bicester meets that description and is the location chosen by Bomber Command Heritage seeking to tell the story of the Bombing Offensive there and of the terrible cost paid to ensure victory. I cannot think of a more fitting location for a National Bomber Command Memorial than that of an ex Bomber Command OTU where so many of the crews formed up and trained only to perish together doing their dangerous work, within only a few months for many. A place of Remembrance indeed.
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Old 18th Oct 2008, 14:55
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So, after sixty odd years there is at last to be some sort of memorial, albeit minus the names. Good news indeed.

One quote from the article hit me very strongly "This is not about glorifying war, it is about honouring sacrifice." Very true.

I agree wholeheartedly with Chugalug2 that we still need a memorial that will have the names, maybe one day that will happen. Hopefully while there are some of the "young men" still alive to see it. The Bicester project would serve not only as a place of Remembrance, but also as a place of education.
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Old 18th Oct 2008, 15:10
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That post will not be moved or removed.

It is a shock to know that the total number of civilians killed during the Dresden attacks is now calculated at 20,000. A truly remarkable revelation. Especially now, as it has been rammed down people's throats so regularly. The allied bombers acted at the behest of their political masters and have been accused of performing some dastardly act against a tyrannical regime. We even sent Andrew to apologise for the Dresden attacks.

I can remember being bombed, you do when you are young, and I always hoped then that Germany was being given some back in return. It was.

Now, we have a bunch of German historians stating a fact like that, it kinda makes the 36,000 people killed in the Blitz a bit harder to bear.

War, then as now, knows no bounds.

Now it is even more important to have the proposed memorial in Regents Park, where we can go as often as we wish - or should!

The names of the crews is important. Gordon Brown's comment that you can see them on the Armed Forces memorial was a thoughtless and altogther inappropriate remark.
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Old 18th Oct 2008, 22:11
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Great news indeed. I'll certainly visit. To all those that want to denegrate those involved in the 'Area Bombing' raids, and quote numbers, (not necessarily on this site), let me quote some. On the night of August 2nd 1944, about 21,000 of the 22,000 gypsies in Aushwitz were murdered. One night ! Our BC crews brought that kind of medieval barbarism to an end. Lest we forget.
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Old 19th Oct 2008, 11:52
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Welcome to the thread WH, hope you can hang around! You are right to remind us of the monstrous tyranny that this nation was pitted against in WWII and with only Bomber Command available for most of the war with which to do it. It is perhaps a good thing that on the whole we are reflective and uncomfortable about prevailing over our enemies, instinctively wishing to make up and make amends ASAP. Rather it is the relationship with our erstwhile allies that is usually the more strained!
But in this case our discomfort with the destruction wrought in our name by the Bombing Offensive moved on to the hypocritical stance of disassociating ourselves with it and denouncing it, led on by the national leadership and the liberal "thinkers". That was unworthy and callow, and totally betrayed those who had faced such fearful odds night after night to ensure eventual victory. Perhaps true perspective can only come with time. Certainly truth rather than lies, fact rather than fiction, seem to need the span of generations to see the light of day, witness the revision of the "Dresden Files"!
High time then to make amends, starting with the Regents Park Memorial. It will be instructive to count the great and the good who turn out for its dedication, just as it was instructive to see who didn't for the unveiling of Bomber Harris's statue at Clement Danes. Bless you Queen Mum, you at least could carry on looking us all in the face!
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Old 25th Oct 2008, 12:02
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When, on Remembrance Day each year you pay your respects to those who gave their all, be it on parade or in the privacy of your home, you naturally give special thought to crews you knew and who didn't make it. It is the one time in the year when maybe you pull out the old logbook and album.....and remember. So many faces.....so many names.....men, just like you, full of hopes and ideals; men who died never to feel a furrowed brow, a thinning head of hair, never to know the joy of their children's laughter; men, once a fine balance of sinew and bone and muscle and blood; men who talked and laughed and thought and wondered and were afraid. All the memorials in the world cannot recapture their spirit, their gaiety, their courage, their unselfishness.
From the J. Batchelor Collection
Lancaster at War Book 3 by Mike Garbutt and Brian Goulding

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Old 2nd Nov 2008, 14:16
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We would do well to remember 3rd Novmber 1943 when F/Lt Bill Reid and his crew were briefed to take part in a raid on the Mannesmann steel works on the outskirts of Dusseldorf. While crossing the Dutch coast at 21,000 feet their aircraft, Lancaster LM360 QR-O wasattacked by a Messerschmitt Bf110 night fighter from dead astern. Its cannon shells put the |Lancaster's gun turrets out of action and Bill's cockpit windscreen. After confirming his crew were unscathed he decided to carry on with the sortie despite the bitterly cold slipstream entering the cockpit. He was wounded in the head, shoulders and hands. Soon afterwards the Lancaster was attacked again, this time by a single engined Focke-Wolfe FW190. The enemy's fire raked the bomber from nose to tail, killing the navigator and fatally injuring the wireless operator. Although the situation was now dire, Bill's depleted crew continued with the operation and bombed the target some 50 minutes later. After clearing the target area Bill managed to set a course for home by using the Pole Star and moon. With the assistance of the flight engineer and bomb aimer Bill managed to fly the damaged aircraft back to England before carrying out an emergency crash landing at RAF Shipdham in Norfolk.
For his superb courage an leadership F/Lt William Reid was awarded the Victoria Cross.The flight engineer, Sgt James W. Norris, was awarded the rare Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his devotion to duty during the operation. Although injured himself during the second fighter attack, Norris took over the Lancaster's controls when his skipper drifted into unconsciousness during part of the return flight to England.
Please note that once in a bomber stream it was extremely dangerous to change direction, opposing the stream's flow, to abort your mission.
It is this and similar examples in Bomber Command that add to the reason for a Memorial.
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Old 2nd Nov 2008, 14:54
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Seven years ago I tucked an obituary to Bill Reid into a copy of 'The Lancaster at War'. Here it is.

William Reid VC
From The (Glasgow) Herald. November 2001.

THIS week saw the funeral of William Reid VC in Crieff. Bill’s passing reduces to just 20 the number of men alive around the world who hold this highest award for courage.

Many people in the town were surprised to learn that Bill held the Victoria Cross. Stories of his unfailing modesty were told throughout the eulogies, perhaps the most amazing being that his wife was not told of his VC until after they were married.

Bill’s gentle nature and modesty were recognised by many speakers.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Wilson, after recounting the details of the seriously injured Bill’s route through a hail of attack to drop his bombs, explained that when he once told Bill how he had travelled by a particular local road to visit him, Bill said:
“Oh, I never use that road. It’s far too dangerous.” The church was packed with a mixture of local people and RAF dignitaries. I found myself sitting behind a squadron leader. An air commodore and an RAF equery to the queen sat behind me, alongside local people. All around were elderly men, proudly wearing the tie of the Aircrew Association, of which Bill had been vice-chairman.

Sitting alongside Bill’s family was John Cruickshank VC, a lifelong friend of Bill and of his wife Violet, and now the sole surviving holder of the Victoria Cross in Scotland. The service was about Bill Reid the man, rather than Bill Reid the Victoria Cross, but it was impossible to avoid the realisation that we were mourning one of a rapidly diminishing number of these great men, as well as the friend, neighbour, husband, father, and grand-father that Bill was.

As people filed out of the church after the service, the Reid family spoke personally to everyone in attendance. RAF personnel and ATC cadets lined the driveway on to the road as Bill’s cortege prepared for his final journey.

With precision timing, four Tornado aircraft of Bill’s famous 617 Squadron approached at low level, over-flying the church in diamond formation. Precisely as they passed over the church, the rearmost aircraft peeled off into a vertical climb and powered upwards into the clouds. Although it was all too soon lost from sight in the low cloud-base, for almost a minute the crackling roar of its engines thundered down into the silence below, in a powerful farewell to a brave colleague. Many onlookers were visibly stunned by this rare gesture of respect for a very special man.

In a week where TV and newspapers have been consumed by accounts of the death of a “heroic” musician, we have lost one of the real heroes of our time.

William Reid VC personified the bravery and sacrifice of an entire generation. We shall seldom see his like again.

William Reid VC, bomber pilot and agricultural adviser; born December 21, 1921, died November 28, 2001.
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