A new memorial honoring the 55,573 airmen who died while serving in Bomber Command during World War II was formally dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II in Green Park last week. At the centre of a new Portland stone pavilion, designed by architect Liam O’Connor (the architect behind the Commonwealth Memorial Gates near Buckingham Palace), is a nine foot high sculpture – the work of Philip Jackson – depicting seven aircrew from a Lancaster bomber having just returned from an operation (detail of which is pictured). The roof of the pavilion, the design of which was inspired by construction techniques used in the Vickers Wellington bomber, incorporates aluminium which was recovered from a Handley Page Halifax III bomber shot down over Belgium on the night of 12th May, 1944. The eight crew were killed during the incident and three of them were found still at their stations when the aircraft was excavated from a swamp in 1997 (they were subsequently buried with full military honors alongside the other five members of the crew). Hundreds of RAF veterans and Commonwealth airmen turned out to see the £6 million publicly funded memorial officially unveiled. The event was also marked with a flyover by five RAF Tornado bombers followed by the RAF’s last Lancaster Bomber which dropped thousands of poppies over Green Park in a message of remembrance. About 125,000 men served in Bomber Command from 1939-1945. The memorial, created following a five year campaign, commemorates people of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of that period. For more on the memorial, see www.bombercommand.com.
PICTURE: Courtesy of Mike Legend at Flickr.