The RAF Bomber Command Memorial was unveiled by the Queen in central London in June 2012. It commemorates the aircrews of RAF Bomber Command and their repeated bravery during the Second World War.
Lord Ashcroft made a £1million commitment to the £7million appeal for the Bomber Command Memorial because he wanted it built while some war veterans, now in their late 80s and 90s, are still alive. Even now, the fund-raising for the memorial in Green Park, central London, is not over and some £1.5 million is needed to maintain the monument.
It was for this reason that Lord Ashcroft decided to donate all his author’s royalties from his book, Heroes of the Skies, published in September 2012, to the RAF Benevolent Fund, which is the custodian of the new memorial.
Bomber Command consisted of some 125,000 volunteers from Britain, the Commonwealth and Allied countries who had to endure some of the most terrifying combat conditions of the Second World War. Indeed, Bomber Command was the only British fighting force that took the war 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. Three out of every five airmen became casualties and the more detailed 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.
The losses of Bomber Command were greater than those of any other service – accounting for 10 per cent of all British fatalities – yet, perversely, its members were, until the summer of 2012, the only Second World War servicemen not to have been publicly honoured by their country.
Image Credits: Steve Tucker, Rachel Tucker