Around 300 World War Two veterans, some of whom had travelled from as far as Canada and Australia, were among the 3,900-strong audience at the opening of the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) at Canwick Hill, Lincoln on a cool and foggy 12 April. The centre took eight years to complete and cost £10 million to build. It includes a peace garden, the Chadwick Centre — which tells the story of Bomber Command through galleries and interactive exhibits — and a 102ft-tall spire, which is now the tallest war memorial in the country.
The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust was formed in 2009 in order to build the centre. The project has since received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, LIBOR, North Kesteven District Council, the Foyle Foundation and many other smaller supporters. Nicky Barr, IBCC chief executive said, “The veterans and their memories, coupled with their struggle for recognition, have always been at the heart of this project. From the outset, we have had fantastic support from all sectors of the veteran community and it is now our chance to thank them publicly and formally.”
“The centre took eight years to complete and cost £10 million to build. It includes a 102ft-tall spire, the tallest war memorial in the country”
Lincolnshire was chosen as the site of the IBCC because 27 RAF Bomber Command stations — more than a third of the total — were based in the county during World War Two.
Barr said the centre had, in partnership with the University of Lincoln, created a digital archive including more than 190,000 documents, photos and letters. “It is an incredible record of heroic, inspiring and truly incredible stories which will be going live later in the year,” she said.
It is likely that the event will have been the last formal gathering of Bomber Command veterans, the youngest of those present being 92 years of age. More than 55,000 men from Bomber Command died in the skies over Europe during the war.