Hundreds of veterans gather for Lincoln Bomber Command Centre opening

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Tens of thousands of men and women who gave their lives in the Bomber Command were remembered with a fitting ceremony in Lincoln, attended by around 300 war veterans.

The International Bomber Command Centre opening ceremony on Thursday, April 12 featured poignant tributes to those who fought for their country, all in the shadow of a Lancaster-inspired Memorial Spire in their name.

The day marked the completion of a major eight-year project comprising a £10 million visitor information centre, memorial and walls containing the names of 57,861 young men and women killed in WWII in service of Bomber Command.

It was a cool and foggy day on Canwick Hill, leading to the cancellation of a number of flypasts marking the occasion, but the chilly April weather did little to spoil the triumphant spirit of IBCC partners.

IBCC Director Nicky Barr. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Project Director Nicky Barr addressed the 3,900-strong audience, some of whom had travelled from as far away as Canada and Australia, to thank volunteers, partners and financial backers.

She also paid a special tribute to IBCC founder and former Lord Lieutenant for Lincolnshire Tony Worth, who passed away just seven weeks before his dream was brought to reality.

She described him as a “prince among men”, adding that he will “remain an inspiration”.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Sadly, planned flypasts have been cancelled due to fog. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Over 300 veterans are attending the special ceremony. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Also addressing the gathering was Minister of State for Defence Lord Earl Howe. He said: “It is a rare honour and humbling to represent the government in the presence of so many of our bravest veterans.

“That so many of you have travelled so far to be here is a tribute to your great spirit and fortitude… you took the fight to our enemies in our darkest days. Many flew Lancasters, perhaps taking a last look at Lincoln Cathedral as they left the county.”

Compering the event was journalist and broadcaster John Sergeant. He was joined by a range of bands, choirs and drama performers.

About the IBCC

Inside the Chadwick Centre

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

  • The opening ceremony was likely to be the last formal gathering of those from WWII. The youngest was 93
  • The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust was formed in 2009
  • The project has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, LIBOR, Biffa Award, WREN FCC Environment, Veolia Environmental Trust, Community Covenant, Garfield Weston, North Kesteven District Council and Foyle Foundation and many other smaller funders
  • 728 volunteers in 9 different countries are working with the project
  • The IBCC is predicted to bring £2.1 million in economic impact to the county each year
  • The finished spire is 31.09m tall and 5m wide at the base which is the wingspan of the Avro Lancaster bomber and 16ft (5m) wide at the base, the width of a Lancaster wing
  • It is the UK’s tallest war memorial and weighs 55 tonnes

Who were Bomber Command?

More than a million men and women served, or supported, Bomber Command. Originating in 60 nations across the world.

  • 125,000 men from all over the world helped to protect the nation during WWII as aircrew in Bomber Command
  • Of these, 72% were killed, seriously injured or taken Prisoner of War
  • Over 55,000 men from Bomber Command died in the skies over Europe
  • Each man was a volunteer, and their average age of death was only 23
  • More than a million men and women supported or served the Bomber Command. They too suffered losses
  • The majority came from the UK and the Commonwealth, with the remainder from countries as diverse as Peru and Germany (many escaping from the Nazi regime)
  • It was Bomber Command that delivered the world’s first airborne humanitarian mission, Operation Manna, delivering over 7,000 tons of food parcels in 10 days over the west of Holland