Veterans off to London for memorial
Fri, 25 May 2012 2:11p.m.
All 32 World War II veterans set to travel to London next month for the unveiling of a Bomber Command memorial have undergone medical tests to check that they are up to making the trip.
The party of former Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel are aged between 87 and 94 and all served with Bomber Command between 1939 and 1945.
Veterans' Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) had more than 90 survivors express their interest in making the journey, but around 40 withdrew their applications before the final tour party was chosen.
"I acknowledge that there will be some disappointment amongst those who are not able to attend the London-based event, however we will support those veterans to attend a ceremony to acknowledge their service here in New Zealand," VANZ general manager Rick Ottaway said.
He said those in the final tour party were all medically assessed to ensure they were fit to travel.
Around 6000 New Zealanders served with Bomber Command, bombing various targets considered crucial to the war effort, as well as undertaking many other well known operations, including the Dam Busters raid.
A total of 1856 New Zealanders died in bomber operations.
The new memorial commemorates the 55,573 Bomber Command aircrew killed during the war.
It incorporates aluminium sections recovered from the wreckage of a Canadian Halifax bomber shot down over Belgium in May 1944.
The memorial, in London's Green Park, will be officially dedicated on June 28.
The New Zealand delegation will fly in an air force Boeing 757, and their travel, accommodation, and medical costs are being funded by VANZ.
Australia is flying up to 30 of its Bomber Command veterans to the service.
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25/05/2012 10:16:28 p.m.
John Beale wrote:
My Uncle, Flying Officer Donald Connop shot down night of 14th January 1945. Donald died with the rest of his crew, never got to meet him, I am hoping I can get to London to take part in memorial service. His sister Irene [my mother] missed him greatly. RIP
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