Work on the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial on Canwick Hill in Lincoln is set to begin in December after the project secured £3.1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Once complete, the centre will provide a world-class facility to serve as a point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for Bomber Command.
It comprises of several elements: the Chadwick Centre, the Memorial Spire, the Bomber Command Archive and the International Peace Garden.
Work on the construction element of the project is due to start in December 2014, with the first phase being completed by June 2015, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
The rest of the costs for the £8 million project, including the construction, are being raised through other means.
The project will also create an archive that digitises and preserves hundreds of personal stories and documents including the recollections of some of the few remaining survivors of the campaigns.
Dan Snow, historian and ambassador of the project said: “Lincolnshire needs a proper memorial to the service personnel who faced appalling conditions as they did their bit to liberate Europe from fascism.
“There is no other centre in Britain or any other country where the history of the bomber offensive can be preserved, gathered, curated, studied and debated. This centre will be a world leader.”
During the Second World War, more than 125,000 men served as aircrew in Bomber Command. Less than 70,000 returned – an attrition rate of just 44.4%.
Only 30% of those that flew got to the end of the Second World War without being killed, injured or taken prisoner of war. They were supported by 1000’s of men and women who served in ground crew, with the Air Transport Auxiliary, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and many others.
Lincolnshire earned the title of “Bomber County” as the Headquarters of both One and Five Groups and a third of all the UK’s stations were based in the county.
Many of the most well-known operations flew from one of these 27 bases and 46% of all of the Command’s losses flew out of the county’s bases.
Television and radio presenter and IBCC supporter, Hon Dr John Sergeant said “Having a centre devoted to telling and explaining the story of the bomber offensive in the Second World War is long overdue.
“The unveiling will come at a time when the Nation and our Commonwealth and Allied friends will be remembering the sacrifice of those who fought and hoping that the 70th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War will engender a new spirit of reconciliation between old enemies who are today friends.”
The Trust is already working with over 100 volunteers who are researching, recording oral histories and giving support at events. The project aims to engage with over 600 volunteers by 2020, offering training in a wide number of areas.
The Centre will have a dedicated education service working with school groups visiting the centre and through outreach programmes including the creation of schools packs.
Tony Worth, Chairman of the LBCM Trust said: “This support from HLF will help the Trust develop this long overdue project to ensure that this fascinating, if difficult, story is told for generations to come.”
Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln and IBCC Trustee said “The award of the Heritage Lottery grant is brilliant news. It will enable the University, as a partner in the IBCC, to unlock a wealth of expertise, talent and creative energy in building an unrivalled digital archive on Bomber Command, which will have truly international reach.”