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Hundreds Of Bomber Command Veterans Gather To Remember Sacrifices Made

The International Bomber Command Centre officially opens to the public...

Nearly 4,000 people attended a special ceremony to officially open the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln.

Bomber Command flew thousands of missions during World War II attacking key German targets with over a million men and women serving and supporting them.

On Thursday more than 300 veterans travelled from around the globe to attend the ceremony and cut the ribbon to mark the opening. 

International Bomber Command Centre Openning

It's been years in the making and cost around £12million.

Due to the weather the grand opening had to be cut short, the conditions halted the planned flypast of a range of aircraft, which would have included a Chinook, Typhoon and 2 Tornado GR4.

But that didn't stop hundreds of veterans turning up and it certainly didn't dampen their spirits.

Stuart Vallières, a 95-year-old Bomber Command Veteran travelled from Canada for Thursday's event.

Mr Vallières was shot down in France in 1944 and rescued by the French resistance - but his injuries were so severe they handed him over to the Germans and he become a prisoner of war.

The event brought back some overwhelming memories for him.

"You remember the people you knew, as a member of a bomber crew your crew members become closer than family members”

International Bomber Command Centre Openning
Theo Eaves (left) and Stuart Vallières (right) travelled far to mark the occasion.

The fallen were remembered for their sacrifices by those who lived through it, with the youngest being 93-years-old and the oldest being 100.

British veteran, Theo Eaves who was also 95-years-old, was involved in 35 operations in the Middle East.

”I lost a number of friends and it is an emotional time, I might even have a few tears, but I feel wonderfully delighted to be here at my age and to be able to talk to you and come along to this ceremony.”

Afterwards people had the chance to find their friends and family on the walls made to commemorate the thousands who died. 

International Bomber Command Centre Openning
International Bomber Command Centre Openning
International Bomber Command Centre Openning

Amongst them was Bomber Command Veteran, Lesley Sutton, who was searching for his brothers name.

“Over 50,000 airmen didn’t come back including my brother he was shot down over Cologne on his 21st birthday but of course thank God we had victory in the end.”

International Bomber Command Centre Openning
Lesley Sutton joined Bomber Command in 1992 and served for six years.

Despite the cold weather, they turned up in their hundreds to pay their respects.

Nicky Barr Chief Executive at the International Bomber Command Centre said: “To get 300 veterans here, our youngest is 92 and our oldest is 100, that’s just incredible and I thought this morning we would get a lot of calls from people saying they couldn’t come but no, they are made of sterner stuff.”

The centre is now officially open to the public. 

International Bomber Command Centre Openning
RAF Band performed during the ceremony.
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