1. ITV Report

Queen to honour WWII Bomber Command airmen

Members of the Bomber Command who will be honoured by the Queen Photo:

55,573 RAF crew lost their lives in the Second World War. The fighters were given a life expectancy of just six weeks.

Their role was sometimes controversial but it was vital and demanded a terrible sacrifice.

Members of Bomber Command who flew in the Second World War will receive long overdue recognition for their duty when the Queen unveils a War Memorial that has been funded by the public.

For decades Bomber Command veterens carried with their medals a sense of injustice, but the ceremony will officially honour the men's sacrifice.

ITV News' Paul Davies reports:

Two comrades from the 'Bombers' reminisced at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford ahead of the Memorial unveiling and marvelled at the fact that they survived when so many didn't.

88-year-old Harry Irons joined the RAF at 16-years-old and was a rear gunner. His colleague Sam Brookes was a wireless operator.

Mr Brookes says he will be respresenting the young men who didnt come back, including his best friend Keith Gosling. The 87-year-old said:

I'll probably be thinking of Keith and the other 50 pilots I knew. Some of them I knew for a month or more, some of them I only knew for a couple of days. They're the people I'll be thinking of.

Sam Brookes who was a wireless operator for Bomber Command in the Second World War

Harry Irons saw many friends "blown out of the sky" as a rear gunner.

The 87-year-old believes there was a reluctance to recognise the role of Bomber Command after the war because of what they had done to German cities. He said:

A few politicians branded us as war criminals after the war.

Harry Irons was a rear gunner in Bomber Command

Looking at the same plane he flew during the war, a Lancaster bomber, Mr Irons said: "I did 30 bombing trips to Ruhr Valley in that, and you know what? How I survived I'll never know."

The veteran pilot recalled one flight in particular:

The most amazing thing I've seen, I've seen a bomber with its engines on fire ... and still going on his bombing run, even though he was doomed.

The National Memorial to the fallen of Bomber Command will be unveiled in Green Park, London on the 28th June 2012.

The RAF Benevolent Fund supports former and current members of the RAF. Founded in 1919 they provide welfare and practical help for all serving and former members of the RAF and their families. Find out how you can get involved here.

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