This week, the Bomber Command Memorial at Green Park was voted London's most popular tourist attraction according to Trip Advisor. This is a really poignant moment for everyone who supported the five-year project to erect a Memorial to the 55,573 men who lost their lives serving in Bomber Command, and demonstrates that the general public's respect for the sacrifice made by Service men and women is as strong now as it ever was. Indeed, since the Memorial was unveiled in June by Her Majesty the Queen, many thousands of people have come to pay their respects, not just from the UK, but from all over the world.
There is no greater debt of gratitude we have as a nation than to those who served their country during times of need. The 'Boys' of Bomber Command epitomised the courage and professionalism of their generation, the same bravery and fortitude being displayed by today's men and women of the Royal Air Force. I know only too well what it means to families and friends when an aircraft is lost on operations, when service men and women fail to return home safely but I can only imagine the pressures and emotions involved in losing so many brave young men as was seen during the Second World War. Bomber Command alone lost over 55,000 young men - a greater number than serve in the entire Royal Air Force today. These young men faced dangers we can barely imagine, all in defence of our freedom, and sadly their sacrifice has too often gone unrecognised. Visiting the memorial is, without doubt, a deeply moving experience and hundreds of visitors have left personal messages of remembrance and thanks, as well as various items of memorabilia.
As the proud guardian of the Bomber Command Memorial, the RAF Benevolent Fund is committed to preserving the Memorial for future generations so that the story of Bomber Command, and the noble sacrifice of 55,573 young aircrew, will always be remembered. As part of this commitment, we've recently launched an app for iPhone and iPad users which allows users to tour the Memorial - either in person at the site, or virtually in the comfort of their own home.
As well as an audio guide for visiting the site in Green Park, the app brings together a range of audio and visual content to tell the story behind the Memorial. This includes exclusive interviews with veterans of Bomber Command and the daughter of a Bomber Boy who never returned - moving, personal stories with poignant reflections on what the Memorial means to them. The app also uses archive photography and infographics to bring the facts and figures behind the men and aircraft of Bomber Command to life.
To get the app please go to the iTunes store or at www.rafbf.org/app. All proceeds raised from the app, which costs 69p, will help the RAF Benevolent Fund to fund the upkeep of the Memorial.
For more information about the Memorial please visit http://www.rafbf.org/1794/bomber-command-memorial.html