Poles among those remembered in UK's WWII bomber memorial
PR dla Zagranicy
Polish air personnel were among those remembered in Britain on Thursday in the first monument to fallen members of the Royal Air Force's WWII Bomber Command.
Queen Elizabeth II unveils the monument in Green Park, London: photo - EPA/ John Stillwell
Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the memorial in London's Green Park, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.
Controversy over the destruction of German cities in the closing phase of World War II hampered prospective tributes to bombing personnel in the past.
In spite of the 44.4 percent casualty rate for air personnel in RAF bombing squadrons (55,573 died, including over 900 Poles) tributes remained somewhat taboo, and no campaign medals were handed out to Bomber Command following the war.
A monument unveiled in London in 1992 to Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, head of Bomber Command, sparked controversy in Germany.
Even while the bombings were still continuing in March 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote that “the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”
Although designed to remember the RAF's fallen air personnel, the monument also pays tribute to people of all nations who lost their lives during bombing campaigns between 1939 and 1945.
Between 300,000 and 600,000 German civilians alone died during the Allied bombing campaign of German towns and cities.
Veterans visiting the memorial yesterday expressed happiness that their fallen colleagues were finally being remembered.
All in all, four Polish Bomber squadrons served as part of the RAF during World War II.
Polish air personnel also played a key role in the Battle of Britain of 1940. By the close of the war, over 19,000 Poles were serving in the RAF. Many remained in the UK, on account of the installation of a communist regime in Poland. (nh)