June 25, 2012
Ottawa – The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced the intention to create an official honour to recognize Canadian Veterans of Bomber Command. A special bar is to be created and worn on the ribbon of the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.
"Our Government is proud to create an official honour for those who served in Bomber Command in recognition of their service and sacrifices during the Second World War," said Minister Blaney. "With the production of this bar, our Government is honouring those Canadians who fought for peace, freedom and democracy through their service in Bomber Command operations over Europe, and in particular the approximately 10,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice."
"The Harper Government makes a concerted effort to recognize Canada's military history and the Veterans who fought for the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law through initiatives such as Bomber Command," said Minister MacKay. "The Veterans of Bomber Command played a crucial role in winning the Second World War, and for their service and sacrifices in Canada's name, we are truly grateful."
The ministers were joined by some of the 42 Canadian Bomber Command Veterans who will be travelling to London, United Kingdom, this week for the unveiling and dedication of a Bomber Command Memorial. The Canadian delegation will also include a Department of National Defence contingent led by Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Minister Blaney and the Canadian delegation will be in London from June 26 to 29, 2012.
"As we travel to London and witness the unveiling of this memorial, we will honour the Veterans who are with us and we will remember their fallen comrades and all those who were dedicated to freedom and the values of democratic nations," said the Honourable Laurie Hawn, a former fighter pilot, retired lieutenant-colonel after 30 years with the Royal Canadian Air Force, "I can think of no better way to honour these brave Canadians than with this memorial and an official honour in the form of a bar."
The London visit will include an unveiling and dedication ceremony of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, across from Buckingham Palace. The delegation will also participate in a private ceremony of remembrance at Runnymede Memorial, which honours the more than 20,000 Commonwealth airmen and airwomen who lost their lives in the Second World War and who have no known grave.
"This day in London will be a great day for any Veteran," said Bomber Command Veteran Stanley Bieniawski, who is part of the delegation. "I am looking forward to honouring all of the names on the memorial, in particular my two cousins who lost their lives with Bomber Command. It's very touching for me to be a part of this event and I feel fortunate to be able to attend."
The efforts of the approximately 50,000 Canadians who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Bomber Command operations over occupied Europe were one of our country's most significant contributions to the Second World War effort.
Those who served in Bomber Command faced harrowing odds. Almost half of all aircrew never made it to the end of their tour. All told, some 55,000 of its Allied airmen, including approximately 10,000 Canadians, would lose their lives in the skies over Europe, as prisoners of war or in training accidents.
For more information on Canada's role in the Second World War, visit veterans.gc.ca.
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
Jean-Christophe de le Rue
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
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