This is sure to stir up some controversy. The (UK) Telegraph is sponsoring a major fund raising campaign "to build a memorial to the forgotten heroes of the Second World War--the men of Bomber Command." (I was pointed to this item by an associate on an EMail loop.)
The RAF Bomber Command was the tool the British used to take the war to the heart of Germany after the Battle of Britain, when no other instrument was available. There was public controversy about the bombing campaign at the end of the war. The crews were denied a campaign medal, which their efforts surely deserved. The Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command during much of the war, Arthur Harris was promoted to five star rank (Marshal of the Royal Air Force) but at the time refused elevation to a peerage, being the only one of the Commanders-in-Chief to not receive that honor after the war. His reason was that he felt his crews had been snubbed.
The brutality of the bombing effort raised a lot of controversy. The bombing of cities, and in particular Dresden, late in the war, was very controversial. At the same time, the cost of the campaign to the RAF was high. Out of 125,000 Bomber Command aircrew members, 55,500 were killed, 8,400 were wounded and 9,800 became POWs. One's chance of making it through a 30 mission tour was not very high. The average loss rate was 5% on any given mission--1 in 20 aircraft shot down on a typical night.
It wasn't until 1992 that a statue was raised to Arthur Harris. It is outside of the church of St Clement Danes, which has become the Royal Air Force Church. Surprisingly, the other statue outside the church is that to Air Chief Marshall Hugh (Stuffy) Dowding, cashiered as Commander Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The erection of the Harris statue was objected to in Germany and England.
I support this project, but didn't see where to send my money. I am sure a web site will appear soon.
There is an Royal Air Force Memorial near Windsor, overlooking Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. This Memorial contains the names of over 20,000 men and women who died in World War II air operations, but have no known graves. Many of these would have been with Bomber Command. This Memorial was erected before our own Viet-nam Wall on the Washington Mall, with the names of all those US forces who died in that conflict.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a graduate of the RAF Staff College, 64 Course.
Regards -- Cliff
10 months ago