On the outskirts of the medieval city of Lincoln a new visitor attraction is due to open on the 30th January 2018. The £16 million International Bomber Command Centre project, which was launched in May 2013, has been funded entirely by personal donations and grants.
The IBCC serves as a point for recognition, remembrance and reconciliation for those who served, supported or suffered the bombing campaigns during the Second World War. Providing one of the most comprehensive records of the Command in the world, the IBCC ensures that generations to come can learn of their vital role in protecting the freedom we enjoy today.
ABOUT BOMBER COMMAND
During WWII, more than a million men and women served, or supported, Bomber Command. Originating in 60 nations across the world, they were united in their efforts to protect the freedom we enjoy today. The service included Aircrew, Ground Crew, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, Auxiliary Air Transport, Auxiliary Transport Services, NAAFI and others.
The majority came from the UK and the Commonwealth, with the remainder from countries as diverse as Peru and Germany (many escaping from the Nazi regime), as well as other European refugees. Their service and sacrifices are remembered in the exhibition.
Of the 125,000 Aircrew who served, 72% were killed, seriously injured or taken Prisoner of War. More than 44% were killed whilst serving, giving the highest rate of attrition of any Allied unit. Each man was a volunteer, and their average age of death was only 23.
The efforts of the RAF Bomber Command significantly changed the outcome of WWII.
Their bombing sorties did great damage to the Axis powers industrial capacity. So concerned were the Axis powers about Bomber Command’s capabilities that they permanently stationed more than 1,000 Luftwaffe aircraft for the purpose of fighting the bombers as well as more than 30,000 artillery pieces.
A million men and women supported Bomber Command on the ground. Their tasks included engineering, scientific developments, the loading of bombs, air traffic control, plotting, map creation and a myriad of other essential roles. They too suffered losses and are memorialised on the IBCC Walls of Names.
Bomber Command developed and pioneered new technologies that together with Allied contributions of both men and material allowed a huge expansion of bombing operations after 1942, contributing to the eventual victory in Europe.
It was Bomber Command that delivered the world’s first airborne humanitarian mission, Operation Manna, delivering over 7,000 tons of food parcels in 10 days over the west of Holland, where one million people were registered as starving. They also acted as a vital element to Operation Exodus that saw the repatriation of over 70,000 POW’s from internment camps across Europe.
In addition, they proved vital to the boosting of the morale of the Allies.
THE MEMORIAL SPIRE & WALLS
At the heart of the International Bomber Command Centre are the Memorial Spire and Walls of Names.
The Spire commands stunning views across Lincoln, with a focus on the City’s ancient Cathedral, which served as a sighting point for crews flying from Lincolnshire. For many of the men named on the accompanying walls, the Cathedral provided their last sight of Britain.
• The Spire is the tallest war memorial in the UK
• It is 102ft (31.09m) high, the wingspan of the Avro Lancaster bomber
• 16ft (5m) wide at the base, the width of a Lancaster wing
• Hold the names of almost 58,000 men and women who perished during WWII
• The only place in the world that memorialises every loss in Bomber Command
• Walls arranged around the spire in concentric circles
THE CHADWICK CENTRE
The Chadwick Centre brings to life the experience of those involved in or affected by the fight to preserve the freedom we enjoy today.
The Centre uses state-of-the-art technology and interactive displays to tell the story of Bomber Command, through the eyes of those who witnessed events first-hand. Interviews with veterans of both air and ground crew, and support staff from around the world, come together to create an Orchestra of Voices. There are accounts from survivors of the Allied bombing campaign, members of the Resistance Movement and people affected by the influx of thousands of service personnel into their communities.
In the 21st century, it is possible to commemorate the bravery of those who served, while recognising the complexity of the issues surrounding the targeting of civilian populations.
Vital to the aims of the project will be the provision of educational facilities where the younger generation can learn about the brave individuals who came before them. A full-time staff will ensure their experience of the Centre is enjoyable, but also that it leaves them with memories and thoughts to stay with them through their lives. Whether visiting as a part of a formal school group or as part of a family, there are numerous engaging activities and trails available.
CHADWICK CENTRE HIGHLIGHTS
• Opening Times – 9.30am to 5pm, closed Mondays
• Three exhibition galleries with state of the art interactive and immersive exhibits
• Temporary and touring exhibitions – an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions taking place throughout the year
• Reference and research library
• Extensive programme of events throughout the year
• Hub Café – an extensive, locally sourced menu, fully licenced, friendly & helpful staff
• Shop – a range of souvenirs, books, models, and gifts, for enthusiasts, & families alike
THE PEACE GARDENS
The IBCC features two peace gardens set across 10 acres of landscaped grounds. Each offer quiet, contemplative space and are free to access
THE LINCOLNSHIRE PEACE GARDEN
Includes 27 native trees marking each of the operational Bomber Command stations in the county during the war. Interpretation, both digital and physical, will help you to trace the history of each station and the Squadrons that were stationed there.
THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE GARDEN
Pays homage to the 62 nations who served or supported the Command. Covering 5 continents, the stories of their involvement is one that is rarely known. Featuring planting native to each continent. Use the IBCC app to discover more about the range of nations and the contribution they made.
THE DIGITAL ARCHIVE AND LOSSES DATABASE
The Bomber Command Digital Archive is preserving documents, from all over the world, including log books, photographs, letters and service citations. The archive also contains oral histories of those involved, from all sides, ensuring that their first-hand experiences are preserved before it is too late.
The archive not only ensures the heritage is preserved but it helps to bring those involved to life through their personal documents and stories.
The archive is free for you to use and documents can be downloaded, printed and used for non-commercial purposes. It is a fantastic resource for anyone with an interest in aviation heritage, military heritage, 20th century history and those doing family research. The archive will be available on the project website from January 2018.
The IBCC Losses Database records the details of 57,871 Bomber Command deaths during WWII. It provides one of the most comprehensive record of these losses in the world.
The work to create this document has taken our team of volunteers 4 years. Led by our losses archivist, and volunteer, Dave Gilbert. The team have cross referenced the data with innumerable sources including national and international Rolls of Honour, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Squadron Association logs, the Chorley Volumes and POW records.
The database now contains over 3 million individual pieces of information and will help you discover the story behind each loss. The work on the database continues with the aim to record every single loss during WWII from those who served or supported Bomber Command.
International Bomber Command Centre, Canwick Hill, Lincoln. LN4 2RF
From January 2018: Open 6 days a week 9.30am - 5pm Closed Mondays
Do you have any stories that involve Bomber Command? Were any of your relatives involved in Bomber Command or RAF pilots during World War II? We're always interested to hear your stories so please feel free to comment below. Looking for the war hero in your family? Search the Forces War Records site, broaden your military genealogy research and delve into our records and historic documents library. SEARCH TODAY