As I am a proud child of the Second World War, I take great solace in the unveiling, in two days time, of the long-overdue Salute to the 55, 573 members of R.A.F. Bomber Command who did not live to return, with the unveiling of the Memorial in Green Park. As an Englishman, I care nothing for the calls and speeches which attempt to denigrate the sacrifice of those young lives whilst serving their Country as foolish, spiteful and even inhuman. We sent those men and boys out for a purpose, to kill the enemy, and to destroy the Nazi war machine, the support structures and the Nazi supporters. The same supporters, never forget, who cheered and saluted their great Fuhrer in the innumerable rallies and marches where that same Adolf Hitler had so foolishly promised that their Third Reich would last for a thousand years.
Winston Churchill, in one of the very few of his actions which deserve censure, pointedly omitted any mention of the sacrifice of the thousands of lives lost by Bomber Command during the War, seemingly motivated by the speeches and writings of the ‘Chattering Classes’, of the Liberals and the Churchmen who just thought we mustn’t be nasty to the people who, just a few short years before, had attempted to annihilate whole cities in the United Kingdom with the very same means as they now denigrated. Ask the people of Coventry if retribution should be stayed, because a particular city was less than useful to the German war effort, and hear their responses. Ask the people who lived through the bombs which hit Jarrow, Liverpool, Birmingham and dozens of other ‘targets of opportunity’ of the Luftwaffe why we should perhaps not have bombed a single place in Germany? I know what their answer would be. Why didn’t we drop more bombs, more often; in memory of those who died, and of the sacrifice of innocents like the 600 who died in a single attack on a school in London’s East End.
Salute to the men who flew, those who died; and those who came back, exhausted. Salute to the men who guided them, who serviced and repaired those Lancasters and Halifaxes, and watched as they began to roll down those runways, heavy with death for the enemy.
Acknowledgement to the BBMF and Bomber Command Memorial Appeal