Hundreds of Bomber Command veterans gather for the opening of the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC)
Over a month ago
More than 300 World War Two veterans from across the globe will gather today to cut the ribbon and officially open the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) later today in Lincoln.
The centre, in Lincoln, cost more than £10m and took eight years to complete.
About 4,000 people are expected at the ceremony, which will also be marked with a series of fly pasts from a Chinook Helicopter, Voyager, Typhoon, Lysander and the legendary Lancaster bomber. An evening concert will see Carol Vorderman take on the role of host.
Organisers said the event was likely to be the last formal gathering of those from the Second World War with the youngest survivor being 93 years old.
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."
“It is the stories of these veterans, and those like them, that the project has painstakingly recorded in over 900 oral testimonies in the last three years.
“The IBCC team, in partnership with the University of Lincoln, has worked to create a comprehensive digital archive incorporating not only these interviews but over 190,000 documents, photos, letters and other personal items.
“It’s an incredible record of heroic, inspiring and truly incredible stories which will be going live later in the year.”
The centre includes a memorial spire, a peace garden and the Chadwick Centre, which tells the story of Bomber Command through galleries and interactive exhibits. Also, the names of all the men and women who perished in the service of the command appear on the walls at the centres memorial – the only place in the world where every loss is memorialised.
Bomber Command crews were tasked with attacking Germany's airbases, troops, shipping and industrial complexes connected to the war effort.
Almost half of the 125,000 personnel lost their lives and it is estimated between 300,000 and 600,000 German civilians died as a result of large-scale bombing.
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.
The ceremony will also see representatives from Governments across the Commonwealth marking the contribution of other nations in defending our freedom.
To find out more about the project, donate or volunteer visit: www.internationalbcc.co.uk or please read our previous blog ‘Inside the….. International Bomber Command Centre’