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Opening of Bomber Command Memorial


john bunyan
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On Thursday, the Bomber Command Memorial is being opened by a number of Royals. I see that the BBC are not covering this “live” (do I detect a bias here?). I tried – admittedly not with all my might, to contact the Bomber Command organisation, as I would like to have attended, but found them a very difficult team to contact. The telephone was unanswered, and they appear to have no on line or e mail application system. It is too late now anyway. My father was one of the about 55000 KIA in bomber Command – night of 23 Aug 1943, a navigator in a Lancaster of 207 Sqn shot down in N Holland on way back from a raid on Berlin. The rear gunner, who landed still in his compartment, was the only survivor. My mother who sadly died 4 years ago was a WAAF driver with Coastal Command at the time.. I am sure quite a few on the forum will think about the Bomber Boys on Thursday.

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john bunyan

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There were so many brave servicemen and women, and still are, and the courage cannot be truly compared - SOE, for example,and all the others mentioned above were and are so brave. Bomber Command , however did, I believe, have the highest percentage casualty rate See Bomber Commandbut that does not detract from the bravery of others. I believe that only U Boat crews had a higher percent loss rate in WW2. I do not think it is possible to rate courage on a scale when there are so many forms of it.

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Forum Editor

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flycatcher1

No doubt FE will remember his Father, who served with my friend post-war, on this special day.

Indeed I will think of him, and of all his Bomber Command friends who were killed in action. My father - as you know - was a Lancaster navigator, and he spoke often of the awful times he returned from an operation to find that people he knew well had not come back.

The Memorial has not been universally well received - there are those who say it shouldn't be in a public park, and that it is far too big. These people think that it's time we stopped perpetuating memories of The second World War in this way. Those who lost their lives in Bomber Command have never had a proper, national memorial, and it's a great shame that their families have had to wait so long for a permanent recognition of the sacrifice made by over 55,000 men and women.

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flycatcher1

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Bravery comes in many forms. My late Brother-in-Law qualified as a Spitfire pilot just after the Battle of Britain. He flew from Tangmere as No 2 to the CO who was a noted Fighter Ace. After a time he found that he could not hack it, he was more frightened of the Spitfire than the Germans. He told the CO. The Boss said that it was a very brave thing to do and not only saved his life but those of others he might have flown with.

He kept his wings and went to Burma as a Forward Air Controller - no sinecure at all.

I asked hem what he wanted to do after the war, he replied "Get into a Reserved Occupation".

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Odin33

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Please don't get me wrong, but in this supposed era of reconciliation, shouldn't we spend a moment to remember the half million men women and indeed children who where too often the 'target for tonight'? And if you argue that these raids crippled the German war machine, remember also that Aircraft and Armoured Vehicle Production reached their peak in 1944!

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spuds

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I was watching a documentary about Bomber Command a few months ago, and a point that was raised in that documentary a few times, was Bomber Command was not really recognised because of the role it had in "killing innocent people and children". Even Churchill apparently had the same thoughts?.

Raising the issue about the repeat missions the people in Bomber Command undertook, possibly applied to many other service people as well as civilians alike. I was reading about 'Ike' Eisenhower's speech on Friday August 11th 1944 to the US 82nd Airborne Division on a visit to the UK, when these servicemen had just returned from Normandy. After having a number of missions with a 46.18% casualty rate, the servicemen thought that the war would be over for them, and 'Ike' was going to inform them of that.

Due to the hot weather, the troop's were ordered to remove their steel helmets, so that they would be more comfortable. In Eisenhower's speech he said " I've owed you a lot in the past and I imagine I'll owe you more in he future". These words were heard in silence, until the troop's realised what was being meant by that. Apparently the steel helmets were then dropped 'like a roar of thunder' on the concrete ground!.

I wonder how many other service people had the same or similar message repeated to them in WW1 and WW2?.

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Forum Editor

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Odin33

My father took part in the controversial Dresden raid. He talked to me about it often, and told me that he and his fellow Lancaster crew members all felt troubled by the extent of the devastation and loss of civilian life that resulted from the raids of 13/15th February. It's easy to look back now, with the benefit of hindsight, and wonder how such intense bombing could have been justified, but of course things were very different in the context of the time.

The figure of half a million civilians killed is freely bandied around, but in fact it was nothing like as many. The Dresden city authorities put the dead at 25,000 at the time, and an official investigation ordered by Dresden City Council in 2010 confirmed the figure. That many civilian deaths in three days is still a shocking number, but somewhat different to the 500,000 that's often quoted by critics of Bomber Command.

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Bingalau

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john bunyan. I have always understood that the service branch which lost the most personnel percentage wise was our very own Royal Marines Band Service. I can't remember where or when I got that information and I have never read it anywhere that I can remember. But it was explained that because they were in "closed up" positions such as radar or gunnery control stations on board ships, that they never stood a chance of getting off if the ships were sunk. (Any idea if this is true?) Maybe it just applied to Royal Navy personnel.

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Woolwell

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Bingalau - 225 Bandsmen killed in 2nd World War, quarter of their strength and highest percentage after Bomber Command. See wikipedia. I had thought that the submariners had had a high percentage of losses too. Will have to look into that.

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john bunyan

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Woo;well

I think you will find the German U Boat crews had the highest % loss.

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morddwyd

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For God's sake.

Does it matter who lost the most people?

Tens of thousands of young men, on both sides, doing exactly the same thing, doing what they thought was best for their country, right or wrong, tens of thousands of families who have never been the same since.

Visit the Reichswald as I have done and weep at the terrible waste.

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