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9th October 2014, 9:44am
Bomber Command Centre gets wings with £3.1 million from Heritage Lottery Fund
Bomber Command The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust (LBCM), in partnership with the University of Lincoln, has been awarded funding of £3.1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the creation of the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC).

The project will, for the first time, provide a central hub for Bomber Command's heroic and difficult story to be told. This will include presenting the experiences of those who served, supported or were affected by Bomber Command’s campaigns in interactive digital displays.

Dan Snow, historian and ambassador of the project, said “There are few more deserving projects in the UK than the International Bomber Command Centre. Lincolnshire needs a proper memorial to the service personnel who faced appalling conditions as they did their bit to liberate Europe from fascism. There is no other centre in Britain or any other country where the history of the bomber offensive can be preserved, gathered, curated, studied and debated. This centre will be a world leader.”

Once complete, the centre will provide a world-class facility to serve as a point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for Bomber Command. It will be located on Canwick Hill in Lincoln, and will comprise several interrelated elements: the Chadwick Centre, the Memorial Spire, the Bomber Command Archive and the International Peace Garden.

Work on the construction element of the project is due to start in December 2014 with the first phase being completed by June 2015, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The rest of the costs for the £8 million project, including the construction, are being raised through other means. £1.2 Million has already been raised since the launch in May 2013.

The project will also create an archive that digitises and preserves hundreds of personal stories and documents including the recollections of some of the few remaining survivors of the campaigns. Much of this information has never before been available for public view.

In April 2014 the University of Lincoln became a full partner in the project, and Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart sits on the IBCC Board of Trustees.

Professor Stuart said: “The award of the Heritage Lottery grant is brilliant news. It will enable the University, as a partner in the IBCC, to unlock a wealth of expertise, talent and creative energy in building an unrivalled digital archive on Bomber Command, which will have truly international reach.  

“It is vitally important that the direct experiences of those caught up in Bomber Command campaigns, on the ground and in the skies, should be captured and preserved for future generations.  There is so much to learn from these stories, about fortitude and bravery, as well as suffering and trauma, and I feel immensely proud that the University will be playing a central role in this task.”

During the Second World War, more than 125,000 men served as aircrew in Bomber Command, and less than 70,000 returned. Only 30% of those that flew got to the end of the Second World War without being killed, injured or taken prisoner of war. They were supported by thousands of men and women who served in ground crew, with the Air Transport Auxiliary, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and many others. 28% of those who died came from outside the UK and over 60 nations were represented among the Bomber Command personnel lists.

Lincolnshire earned the title of “Bomber County” as the Headquarters of both One and Five Groups and a third of all the UK’s stations were based in the county. Many of the most well-known operations flew from one of these 27 bases and 46% of all of the Command’s losses flew out of the county’s bases.

Commenting on the award, Tony Worth, Chairman of the LBCM Trust, said: “This support from HLF will help the Trust develop this long overdue project to ensure that this fascinating, if difficult, story is told for generations to come.  This is the not the story of rights and wrongs of war or the politics involved but of the people who were affected.  As Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire I am inordinately proud of the support given by the whole county for the project.”

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