The Bomber Command Memorial Service has taken place to remember those who gave their lives and played a historic part in the Second World War.
Wreaths were laid and tributes were read on behalf of the thousands who would normally pay their respects in person and watch a flypast by a Lancaster bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
This year, members of the public were restricted to watching an online live stream of the service.
During the war, 55,573 men died serving RAF Bomber Command, more than the entire strength of the RAF today.
Crews from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Commonwealth and occupied nations took part in daring night flights, missions to disable vital infrastructure forming the Nazi Germany war machine and the Battle of Britain in 1940.
Strategic feats included the famous ‘Dambuster’ raids in 1943 and a mission to clear the way for allied invasion into occupied Europe on D-Day in 1944.
Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, Controller, RAF Benevolent Fund, said it was “especially important” to hold the service in a year which has seen strained resources for the forces charity.
Since the memorial’s opening in 2012, a service has usually been held in July and well attended by Bomber Command veterans, with a Lancaster bomber flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
“We hope that showing this act of Remembrance online will reach a wider audience, especially those veterans and family veterans and family members who are normally unable to attend in person due to illness and disability,” added the fund controller ahead of the event.
Reverend (Squadron Leader) Chrissie Lacey led the service, while Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston read the exhortation.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,“ said the RAF chief.
To end the service, there was a compilation reading of Noel Coward’s poem, ‘Lie in the Dark and Listen’, by Bomber Command veterans, representatives from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Red Arrows, the Queen’s Colour Squadron, and others.
Cover image: Wreaths laid at Bomber Command Memorial service (Picture: RAFBF).