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WEEKEND WEB: Remembering those who served in Bomber Command

Memorial Spire and Walls of Names at the International Bomber Command Centre.
Memorial Spire and Walls of Names at the International Bomber Command Centre.

TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

We had decided to visit the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln on Saturday. Waking up that morning to the news of the allied strikes against Syria, we drove to Canwick Hill in a sombre mood.

The centre, which officially opened last week, serves as a point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation. Far from glorifying war, it gives thanks to the men and women, from 62 nations, who were part of Bomber Command during World War II. It seeks to educate, providing a comprehensive record of the campaign.

At the heart of the centre is the Memorial Spire, a Shard-like sculpture made of weathering steel. The UK’s tallest war memorial, it stands 102 ft tall, the wingspan of an Avro Lancaster Bomber. Its base is 16ft wide, the width of a Lancaster Bomber’s wing.

Surrounding the spire are the 23 Walls of Names. The name of everyone who lost their lives is laser cut into curved steel panels, with space for poppies to be placed in remembrance. As every life lost was equal in sacrifice, no mention of rank is included, just simple surnames and initials.

Almost 58,000 people died serving Bomber Command, the highest losses of any unit during the conflict. The average age of those who died is 23, the youngest being just 14. They struggled for recognition for many years, because of the targeting of civilian populations during the campaign.

Either side of the walls are two peace gardens set in 10 acres of landscaped gardens. 27 lime trees represent the geographical location of each of Lincolnshire’s wartime stations from 1 and 5 Groups.

The striking Chadwick Centre houses exhibition galleries with interactive displays. The information is suited to children and adults. Here you can discover what it was like to be involved in a sortie and you can hear individual stories from those involved. The centre serves as an archive facility: much work has been done to ensure the accounts from veterans have been recorded for posterity.

The Peace Gardens, Spire and Walls are free to visit but there is a charge for the Chadwick Centre galleries: £8.50 for adults, £5.50 for children, £7.20 concessions. It’s cheaper to buy these online in advance of your visit, saving from 80p to £1 per ticket.

The Hub Cafe provides cakes, sandwiches and hot food throughout the day and there is a small shop in the centre too.

Holbeach farmer Tony Worth CVO, Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, was the driving force behind the IBBC. He sadly died last year before the official opening but I’m sure his family and friends are extremely proud that his vision has become a reality. The one million men and women who served or supported Bomber Command are now recognised and those who lost their lives will always be remembered.

• You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


It’s all change now at Kings Cross station


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