A few days ago, and 67 years after the most devastating war in history, the Queen unveiled a new monument on the edge of Green Park in central London. The larger-than-life sculpture features the WWII airmen of Britain’s Bomber Command. The ceremony, nostalgic and, at times moving, is recorded in a British Forces News video.
The monument was long in coming. And the accompanying debate as to whether the defeat of an evil regime justifies the deliberate killing of innocent civilians will likely continue. For Canadians, the debate peaked 20 years ago with the airing of Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command, which examined the bombing campaign against German cities as part of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation mini-series The Valour and the Horror.
Regardless of how we view their leaders, the young men of Bomber Command who fought (and died) during World War II deserve recognition. Their average age was 22. Over 44% perished. Of the survivors, many were wounded or taken prisoner or both. In the early years of the war, when Hitler controlled Europe from Poland to the Pyrenees and British cities suffered nightly bombardment from the Luftwaffe, only Bomber Command could strike back.
A poignant highlight at the unveiling was the cascade of blood-red poppies, falling by the thousands, from a Lancaster bomber flying overhead.