The last battle: Bomber Command’s veterans and the fight for remembrance

Historian article

By Frances Houghton, published 17th April 2020

Bomber Command’s veterans and the fight for remembrance

Frances Houghton examines how and why the popular memory of the Second World War continues to be contested.

Early on the morning of Monday 21 January 2019, still-wet white gloss paint was discovered to have been thrown across the Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park. The bronze sculpture of a Halifax bomber aircrew had only been unveiled in 2012, after many years of fund raising and campaigning for a memorial to the crews of RAF Bomber Command. Whilst a surge of public support immediately offered to assist with cleaning and remedial costs, this despoilment constituted the fourth attack on the memorial in just six years. It also evoked unwelcome parallels with the similar defacement of an earlier memorial to the men of Bomber Command in 1992. Indeed, the last surviving member of the famous wartime 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, roundly condemned the vandalism as ‘disrespectful’ to the 55,573 Bomber Command aircrew who had lost their lives during the Second World War.

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