Thursday, 5 July 2012

Bomber Boys

London has a new memorial.  Last week the Queen unveiled a memorial in Green Park to the 53,500 men of Bomber Command who lost their lives during the Second World War.  Seventy years does seem rather a long time to wait to mark their sacrifice but there has long been a certain controversy about the rightness or otherwise of what was called area bombing as demonstrated at Hamburg and Dresden.

There was a very interesting programme on television the other evening expertly narrated by John Sergeant.  He kept out of view all the while and allowed a number of survivors from Bomber Command to tell their stories, stories which were edited in such a way that the whole developed and built up to a climax.

I have long been aware that, during World War II,  the Merchant Navy suffered greater casualties as a percentage of personnel than the navy, the army or the air force.  What I had not known was that Bomber Command lost even more.  Their losses ran at over 50%. 

The programme included archive film of flack seen from a bomber and it made me wonder just how much courage it must have taken to go through that time after time.  Then I heard that the bomber crews had to undertake 30 missions before being rested - but few managed to make more than 10 before being shot down.

At the end of the programme each of the survivors told how many missions he had flown.  34, 48, 60 - and one had completed as many as 84 missions.  My admiration of those men and the courage they displayed knows no bounds.


Not far from the Town Hall is this building.  But don't be fooled by the sign over the door:  this was apparently never used as a "house of correction" (prison).  Digital enhancement shows that the sign originally read "Antiques purchased" - not that that in itself would mean the building had not been a house of correction - but when it was built (or claimed to have been built) the Town Hall, with it's six cells in the police station, had just been built.  It is thought that this sign was intended to entice people into the shop when it was a boutique selling bikinis etc.

1 comment:

Buck said...

The men of Bomber Command have my ever-lasting gratitude and respect. It's a great good thing a memorial has finally been erected for them and a shame so few lived to see it.