Unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial on June 28th 2012

I applied for tickets to the Bomber Command unveiling as a relative of one of the airmen who perished. My Uncle Harold was one of 11 children and my mother's brother.
He was aged only 19 when he perished in 1943.
He was the rear gunner in a Lancaster Bomber returning from a raid on Aachen, when it was shot down over Belgium. 6 of the airmen died that night and one survived and was taken as a POW.
On 28th June 2012 the long overdue and much awaited memorial to the 55,573 airmen who died in WWII was unveiled in Green Park by the Queen.
I was honoured to be there, and proud to represent my mother who is no longer alive.
The sight of the Lancaster Bomber flying over Green Park dropping its cargo of 1 million poppies made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.


Mrs. Jo ORR.
june 28th 2012

   

 

   

 

   

 

On Thursday 28th June my daughter and I attended the unveiling, in Green Park, by Her Majesty The Queen of the Memorial to the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who did not return from operations.
My wife's brother Harold Matthews was a rear gunner in a Lancaster, and in the early hours of 14th July 1943 his badly crippled aircraft was returning from a raid on Aachen when a night fighter was sent up to complete the destruction. The aircraft crashed near the village of Les Hayons, Bouillon, Belgium and in the morning the pilot of the night fighter was seen to lay a wreath on the crash, it is thought to claim his 'kill'. The Flight Engineer managed to escape and was hidden by the Belgium resistance but later captured and became a prisoner of war. The villagers brought the six bodies down from the site and buried them in the churchyard with the British and Belgium National Anthems being played although there were Germans in the village, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission later erected headstones. Harold was just 19 years old, and before every operation he was ill simply from the fright of what he was going to meet. My wife had five brothers and during the war one was in the navy, two the army, one in the RAF and one in the merchant navy. When Harold was killed someone, perhaps trying to be kind, said to my mother in law 'well you do have four more sons', but it is difficult to understand what she was going through during those six years of war especially when another son was wounded in the fighting around Caen.

The 55,573 aircrew lost out of a total of 125,000 was the highest attrition rate of any on the British side, and at the end of the war Bomber Command was practically written out of history, but with this magnificent memorial justice has at last been done. I was proud to be there, my only regret being that it came too late for my wife.
Go to Hyde Park Corner, look up and think of all those young men (average age 21) who made the ultimate sacrifice.


David MORRIS / july 2012