Kiwis remember fallen comrades
Fri, 29 Jun 2012 7:25a.m.
By Europe Correspondent Melissa Davies
The remaining New Zealand veterans of the RAF's Bomber Command joined their comrades in England for the unveiling of a long awaited memorial to the airmen who died in World War II.
More than 55,000 lost their lives, but until now there has been no permanent monument to commemorate their sacrifice.
Although 2,000 New Zealanders served in Bomber Command just 32 have lived to see their efforts recognised today.
Eighty-nine-year-old Ken Dalzell and 90-year-old Geoff Bibby had almost given up hope this day would ever come – now they feel the injustice of that delay has finally been put right.
The Queen did the honours, unveiling a towering bronze statue in London's Green Park depicting an air crew returning from a mission, scanning the sky for comrades who would never return.
“We've been reminded so much of the people we've lost,” says Mr Dalzell.
“You try to forget about them for the rest of the year but four of my crew died prematurely and I reckon I'm lucky to be here. But I can't understand it and get very emotional about the whole lot.”
“[Its’] very emotional, very emotional - tears were very close to coming out,” says fellow veteran Geoffrey Bibby.
The bombers’ mission, which targeted German cities, was controversial because of the number of civilians killed and permission for this memorial has been a battle in itself.
The $12 million memorial has been funded entirely by private donations, private donors and the veterans themselves, and the last five years has seen a final push to see the project completed – a campaign spearheaded by the late bee gees singer, Robin Gibb.
During the memorial a Lancaster dropped a cloud of poppies in memory of the Bomber Command crew who died.
“It's a great memorial just to look at it and it was great to see the Lancaster flying again,” says veteran Owen Toomey.
Mr Toomey’s daughter watched her dad proudly from across the road.
“The average age of the pilots was 22 – I can't imagine now us trusting or having to trust kids that age to do what these boys did, but we didn't have a choice and it is thanks to them that we are here,” says Kate Toomey.
But so many of them are not – almost one in two never returned from the war.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
30/08/2012 8:05:18 a.m.
suzanne hallett wrote:
this is a fitting memorial to brave men doing what needed to be done at the time. It is stunning Thank you
12/07/2012 1:42:10 p.m.
Richard Carstens wrote:
Article is incorrect in one aspect. It is not '32 have lived to see it today' - Rather that is the number who were selected from NZ vets to attend the ceremony in the UK.
1/07/2012 9:58:33 p.m.
Alaine Dawson wrote:
My Uncle was killed very early in the war 7th June 1940 after a successful bombing mission in Belgium. On returning to base his plane was shot down near Vergies in France. I wish to thank everyone who helped make this memorial a reality. Well done.
29/06/2012 11:13:40 p.m.
I remember Geoff Bibby from this article, as he taught me at school. Teaching us history was a lot more real as he was able to add his own war experience to it. And he really liked to teach the kids.
29/06/2012 7:58:02 p.m.
My Dad was a Lancaster Pilot and would be proud to see this Memorial be unveiled. His crew was one of the lucky ones as they all came home despite some close calls. Seeing the Memorial in person is now on bucket list! Well done to all the people who made it happen, God bless!
Two waterspouts have been spotted over Auckland this afterno...
Once again Campbell Live has a very powerful caravan of opin...
Only a handful of skydivers have survived what happened to L...
Viewers overwhelming voted yes to decriminalising soft drugs...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.