I’m very honoured to have been invited by the RAF to the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park on thursday. This long-awaited public memorial will commemorate the 55,573 young airmen and people of all nations who lost their lives in the controversial bombing campaigns of World War II. Thousands of veterans, their widows and family members from all over the world are coming together to commemorate their lost relatives and comrades. I’ll be going with Reggie Hay from the taxi charity – in a Black Cab of course. We’re taking Eric Davies and his brother, who’s flying in from New Zealand especially. Both are veterans from Bomber Command. Whatever you think about the WWII bombing campaigns, you can’t ignore how much this memorial means to the veterans who took part. ”I’ve got a lump in my throat just talking to you about it”, Eric said when I talked to him at the weekend. My grand-father Euan Bloomfield was in Bomber Command. I’ll be writing something about him to go in the Time Capsule that will be interred within the structure later his year.
During the ceremony, the Queen will unveil a nine foot high bronze sculpture depicting seven Bomber Command aircrew. There’ll be a flypast by five RAF GR4 Tornado bomber aircraft and by the RAF’s last flying Lancaster Bomber. Thousands of poppies will be dropped over Green Park as a message of remembrance.
Tuesday 12th June: the London Taxi Benevolent Association for the War Disabled are taking 0ver 200 war veterans on their annual outing to Worthing. This trip is a real highlight in the lives of veterans, many of whom can’t get about very easily. Around 130 Black Cabs will be travelling from various locations in and around London. As with the charity’s recent trip to Holland, all of the splendid taxi drivers are giving their time for free. The passengers will include an array of veterans from World War II - now in their ’80′s and ’90′s - and various campaigns since. Several Chelsea Pensioners are also coming. Hurrah!
The trip begins in earnest on Tuesday morning in South Holmwood in Surrey, a small village turned over to the rendezvous, complete with a welcoming party in the village hall. I’ve heard that the ladies from the village and the local WI usually bake so many cakes and make so many sandwiches there’s no need to eat ever again. After filling up with various refreshments, we’ll then drive in a convoy up to 5 miles long to Worthing. Look out for us if you are on the A24!
In Worthing, we’ll have lunch and a knees-up in the Municipal Hall. An organ player is coming along especially to play one of the few remaining Wurlitzer organs in the country. The Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing will be there, as will guest of honour Sir James Eberie. It looks to be a wonderful day, as well as being an extraordinary sight. In my recent experience, it’s unlikely to receive much media coverage owing to it being such good news. But you can follow it on Twitter. #vetsroadtrip
I’ll be going along, collecting stories, taking photographs, enjoying the company of some wonderful people.