Veterans brought together for unveiling of Bomber Command sculpture

Thomas Telford
Veteran Thomas Telford will be in London to see the memorial unveiled Photo: ITV News Wales

A memorial to commemorate the loss of 55,573 Bomber Command airmen in the Second World War will be unveiled at a ceremony in Green Park in London today.

The event will bring together thousands of Bomber Command veterans, including 91-year-old Thomas Telford from Ruthin.

Thomas Telford in RAF uniform
Thomas spent five years in the RAF, leaving in September 1946 Credit: ITV News Wales

Thomas was involved in multiple bombing missions over Germany during the Second World War, and lost a number of close colleagues. He says that when the sculpture is unveiled today, "I'll certainly think of some of the lads I knew very well who didn't make it - no question about that." As for the memorial itself, he says "it's wonderful that it's happened. It's about time!"

The memorial also commemorates the people of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of 1939-1945, with an inscription remembering that loss.

During the 30-minute ceremony, the Queen will unveil a nine foot high bronze sculpture depicting seven Bomber Command aircrew. A Bomber Command veteran will read an exhortation before the act of remembrance. The ceremony will end with a flypast by five RAF GR4 Tornado bomber aircraft crewed by today’s Royal Air Force. This will be followed by a flypast by the RAF’s last flying Lancaster Bomber, which will drop poppies over Green Park as a message of remembrance for the 55,573 Bomber aircrew lost.

RAF Bomber Command
55,573 Bomber Command airmen died in action during the Second World War Credit: ITV News Wales

The memorial comes after five years of campaigning by the Bomber Command Association, and for many veterans and family members it represents a long awaited acknowledgement of the significant contribution made by the 125,000 men who served in Bomber Command in World War Two.

The erection of a sculpture has caused controversy in some circles, because of the policy of large scale area bombing near the end of the war, including the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in which 25,000 people were killed.

The ITV News website has continuing coverage of the unveiling of the Bomber Command memorial.