First published in the Daily Express on 03 October 2015
THE International Bomber Command Centre is a hugely exciting project to mark the heroism of a group of airmen who fought for their country and wider freedoms.
Its basic aims could hardly be more worthy: to commemorate the immense gallantry and sacrifice of our RAF crew and to educate the wider world about their courageous deeds in the skies above Europe as the Allies sought to defeat the evils of Nazi Germany.
For far too long, the bravery of the members of Bomber Command has been overlooked and the new centre will go a long way to righting this wrong.
I began to grasp the enormity of their contribution to the war effort when I pledged my support to the Bomber Command Memorial in London, making a substantial donation to its £7million appeal.
They took the struggle directly to Germany, destroying vital infrastructure and supply lines – but at a very heavy price.
The average age of the aircrew was just 22 and the youngest were only 18.
The statistics tell their own story: 55,573 men were killed, 8,403 were wounded and 9,838 were captured and held as prisoners of war.
Indeed, only 30 per cent of those who flew reached the end of the war without being killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
However, there is much work to be done before this dream can become a reality.
So I would urge businesses, community groups, individuals and even governments to contribute towards the £3.5million target for the centre to be built.
This is a magnificent project that seeks to create a lasting legacy – but it needs your help.