Bomber Command Medal

Lancaster veterans call for medal

Mr White 'didn't know where the bombs were dropping'

World War Two veterans are calling on the Ministry of Defence to recognise the achievements of Bomber Command.

Criticism of the attacks on civilian areas of Dresden, Cologne and Berlin has left many veterans feeling victimised.

And at a gathering marking the 60th anniversary of the Avro Lancaster's first combat mission, former crew members said those who risked and sacrificed their lives should be given campaign medals.

Casualties high

The night raids on occupied were launched by the then head of Bomber Command, Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris.

Many of the 30 former Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots, wireless operators, navigators and gunners at the Imperial War Museum's aviation section in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, also took the opportunity to climb into a Lancaster for the first time in more than 50 years.

Navigator Fred Norton was the sole survivor in an eight–man crew when his Lancaster was shot down over Cologne in January 1945.

He spent the final months of the war in a prison camp.

And the 88–year–old feels it is "very wrong" that no campaign medals have been awarded.

"The casualty rate was very high," he explained.

"Yet we got nothing".

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A Post script - Bomber Command Campaign Medal and Memorial?

Bomber Command veterans have raised the question of entitlement to a Bomber Command medal, for many years, and to date have been bumping their head against a brick wall. Worse even than going out night after night and not knowing if you would be alive to go again. There was no thought of medals only of surviving after the battle night after night. We do not belittle whatever war service others had it was a team effort but medals have always been an issue and one which Governments always seem to sidestep.

It is difficult to compare the service dangers of the flying across enemy occupied territory to that of pushing a pen across a piece of paper while flying an office desk for which many qualified and received War Medals.

Following D-Day and for some months after 6th June 1944 the Bomber Command casualties were greater than the casualties suffered by the British 2nd Army, so any Government worth its salt would have seen that those airmen who served in this area were suitably rewarded in their campaign awards.

BOMBER COMMAND veterans record is on the board, written in blood, sweat and tears.

The airmen, the cream of their country, following Dunkirk, together with their fellow counterparts in Bomber Command, bore the brunt of the war against Germany and but for them England may not have survived as a nation.

Every one of them was a volunteer and were sent to the theatre of war at their Government’s direction. Even after their homeland was being threatened the Australian Government was still sending aircrew to the European theatre of war, where many of them received white feathers from Australia as a token of cowardice because they had apparently deserted the fight against the Japanese.

Bomber Command veterans were 2% of all Australian volunteers in the 2nd world war and almost 23% of the casualties. These casualties would be similar for all nationalities who served in Bomber Command.

As Bomber Command veterans we returned to an Australian ndifference, which still exists today. Why, we ask, have Bomber Command veterans not been recognized and been given their just entitlement medal and ribbon for the record and history they carved in blood over Germany for five long years.

Yours faithfully,

Laurie Woods

As I have often said before, I sure am glad I didn’t fly with these people or I would be sprouting wings now instead of waiting for a little satisfaction on medal entitlement for which I qualified. There are some now only of hundreds who are also entitled and should have their medals adjusted but of course at our age we are dying off like flies so a little longer and we will all be gone and their will be no need to fix our disatisfactions.

This is the complaint from most airmen who flew in Bomber Command that there is no specific medal for this service. (Acknowledged as the most dangerous and deadly of all time).

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