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Ultimate sacrifice

By NewarkAdvertiser Reporter


As the nation marks the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters raid, many of your younger readers may wonder if commemorating events from the second world war is still relevant today.

My answer would be very simple — it is as relevant today as it has been over the last 75 years.

One has only to see how young people flock to the side of George ‘Johnny’ Johnson (our last British Dambuster) or Mary Stopes-Roe (the daughter of Barnes Wallis) to understand how very important these national treasures are to them and our country.

My father, Sergeant Robert Henderson, flew 42 operations with Bomber Command during the war as a Flight Engineer, many with Flt/Lt David Shannon, including the famous dams raid in May 1943.

His brave selfless service, along with that of the 132 airmen who joined him on the raid that night, should never be forgotten.

What we sometimes forget is that 53 young men were killed during the sortie, leaving 53 families grieving.

Their ultimate sacrifice has created the legacy of freedom that we enjoy today and for that alone they should always be remembered.

That legacy took a more tangible form when, in 2012, the Bomber Command Memorial was unveiled in Green Park, London.

This memorial is vital for generations of young people to understand the foundations on which the freedoms they enjoy are built.

It is important to remember that night, for all of those families whose lives were changed forever, and for all members of the RAF who continue to face danger to protect us. They are safe in the knowledge that, should the worst happen, the RAF Benevolent Fund will be there to support them and their families.

Although my father survived the war, he died while serving at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, in 1961. I was 15 at the time. The RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in to support my mother and me, funding my continued education and ensuring I had the best start in life.

The RAF Benevolent Fund has opened a Book Of Gratitude for the public to send their messages of thanks and tributes to Great Britain’s last surviving Dambuster. Visit https://www.rafbf.org/book-gratitude to leave your message. — Chris Henderson, RAF Benevolent Fund.


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