The Bomber Command Memorial

As an ‘RAF brat’, I grew up on and around RAF stations with the howl of jet engines and the sirens going off for exercises; for a while, my father was stationed at Scampton in Lincolnshire.  Now home to the Red Arrows (the RAF’s spectacular display team), during World War II Scampton was home to four-engined Lancaster bombers.  I vividly remember the Lancaster ‘Gate Guardian’ from my childhood and we sometimes see and hear the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s surviving Lancaster flying overhead even now.

With that upbringing and with e.g. school Houses like Gibson and Cheshire (named after Wing Commander Guy Gibson and Group Captain Leonard Cheshire), and with increasing age/maturity you do tend to gain an appreciation of what war actually entails on the ground and in the air, from the military point of view and from the point of view of innocent victims of war Among other things, you know that far too many aircrew - each of whom was loved by somebody - don’t come back from their missions. This memorial, in London’s Green Park, speaks of the 55,573 Bomber Command aircrew who lost their lives during World War II.   

In spite of these losses, Bomber Command has been the Cinderella of British forces so the Memorial felt very much overdue when it was opened in 2012.  As with the great majority of British military graves and monuments, it is built of Portland Stone - limestones that were laid down in warm, clear waters during the Jurassic in a series of strata.  Much of historic London is built from Portland stone, as is the above-ground bit of Green Park’s nearby Underground station, so the Monument fits in and looks as though it has been there for much longer than it actually has. 

I happened to be there, and took this photo, one Remembrance Sunday which felt very fitting.  It is so much more than a building stone photo.


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