The Royal Air Force Bomber Command Memorial is located in Green Park, London. It was built to commemorate the aircrews of the RAF Bomber Command who fought during World War II. It marks the sacrifice of the fifty five thousand, five hundred and seventy three men from Britain, Canada, Poland and other Commonwealth countries, as well as civilians of all nations killed during the bomb raids. The memorial was officially opened on 28th June 2013 by Queen Elizabeth II.
History of the RAF Bomber Command
The RAF Bomber Command formed in 1936, despite there being reasonable doubt to whether a strong bomber force was a good idea, or whether it would simply encourage complete destruction. After the Nazi Blitzkrieg defeated France in 1940, Britain was left with no other choice than to fight on with the Bomber Command at the forefront of attacks. After much difficulty, the Bomber Command had to result to the problematic task of night bombing in order to reduce the number of casualties.
It was only in 1942 when the appointment of Air Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris as Commander in Chief, started to turn things around for the Bomber Command. His strategy to destroy Germany’s industrial structure, along with improved air craft, better training, navigational aids and the ruthless will to win, was what enabled the RAF Bomber Command to achieve everything that they did for Britain.
The tactics employed by the RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War caused a lot of controversy. One of the most controversial attacks was the raid on Dresden in 1945, which killed thousands of civilians. This meant that the official memorial was delayed for many years. The memorial was eventually funded by a number of public figures as well as donations from the general public.
The sculpture and time capsule
The memorial features a sculpture of seven bomber aircrew members. It was designed by sculptor Philip Jackson who wanted the piece to look like the aircrew had just returned from one of their many missions. It was unveiled in a ceremony attended by the Queen, along with many veterans and relatives on Thursday 29th June 2013. The event drummed up so much interest that it was aired on a big screen opposite the memorial site, so that members of the public could be a part of it.
A time capsule was later placed in the memorial on the 7th November 2012. It holds messages of love and remembrance, as well as photographs, donated by friends, family and supporters of the RAF Bomber Command.
How to get to the memorial
The easiest way to visit the memorial is by tube, with the nearest station being Hyde Park Corner which runs on the Piccadilly line. If you come in from Green Park station on the Jubilee, Piccadilly or Victoria line you will find the memorial within short walking distance. Alternatively you can access the memorial by train. If this is your chosen method of transport you will need to get off at Victoria station and walk. It should take you no more than fifteen minutes! During the day time you can also catch a bus to the memorial. Routes 9, 14, 22, 38 and C2 all stop adjacent to the Memorial.
Preserving the memorial
Unfortunately the Bomber Command Memorial is not funded by the Government and therefore requires the help of the public in order to pay for its up keep. Donations can be made directly from the RAF website or if you wish to you can leave a gift in your will. Many people also like to fundraise for the RAF Benevolent Fund by doing things like running marathons, throwing bake sales and beating world records!
Whether one of your relatives fought in World War II or you just wish to pay your respects to those that did, the RAF Bomber Command memorial is well worth visiting during your trip to London.