Heroes of the Skies

Bomber Command Memorial

Lord Ashcroft was one of the principal donors to the new Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, central London.

He was present in late June 2012 when the Queen unveiled and dedicated the memorial to the memory of more than 55,000 airmen.

Lord Ashcroft made a £1million commitment to the £7million appeal because he wanted the memorial to be built while some Bomber Command veterans, now in their late 80s and early 90s, are still alive.

He said: “Rarely, if ever, can any group of servicemen have been more deserving of a memorial to their courage than Bomber Command. The new monument will be a fitting tribute to men who helped to shape the free world in which we live.”

Bomber Command consisted of some 125,000 volunteers from Britain, the Commonwealth and Allied countries that had to endure some of the most terrifying combat conditions of the Second World War. Indeed, Bomber Command was the only British fighting force that took the war directly to Germany, destroying vital infrastructure and supply lines – but at a very heavy price.

The average age of the aircrew was just 22 and the youngest were only 18. Three out of every five airmen became casualties and the more detailed statistics tell their own story: 55,573 men were killed, 8,403 were wounded and 9,838 were captured and held as Prisoners of War.

The losses of Bomber Command were greater than those of any other service – accounting for 10 per cent of all British fatalities – yet, perversely, its members were, until the summer of 2012, the only Second World War servicemen not to have been publicly honoured by their country.

Even now, the fund-raising for the memorial is not over and £1.5million is needed to maintain the monument. It is for this reason that Lord Ashcroft has decided that he will donate all his author’s royalties from Heroes of the Skies to the RAF Benevolent Fund which, after the unveiling, became the custodian of the new memorial.