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Federal government honours Canadian veterans at Alberta Aviation Museum

EDMONTON – The new Bomber Command Bar was presented to several local Canadian veterans at a special ceremony at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton.

“Today, our government is proud to present the Bomber Command Bar to honour Canadian veterans who served in Bomber Command operations during the Second World War,” said Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs.

“These Canadians fought for peace, freedom and democracy, with many losing their lives in these missions in the skies over Europe. We are proud to recognize them for their service.”

“The Operations Bomber Command were the highest loss rate of any theatre of war in Canada’s history,” said Laurie Hawn, MP for Edmonton Centre. “These men went unrecognized at the end of the war. There were over 55,000 killed in Bomber Command, 10,000 of those were Canadian. Almost half of the people who served in Bomber Command in the air never came home. So it’s past time, it’s overdue.”

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You can watch raw video of interviews with the politicians and veterans in attendance below:

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan jointly undertaken by Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and its graduates were the foundation of Bomber Command.

Many of the Canadians who trained under this program served with Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons in the No. 6 Bomber Group — the only non-British group to serve in Bomber Command.

By the end of the Second World War, No. 6 Bomber Group had carried out more than 40,000 sorties and approximately 8,000 decorations for bravery were awarded to its members.

So why did this official honour take so long to come to fruition?

“It was political correctness at the end of the war. There was controversy around the whole Bomber Command operation,” explained Hawn.

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“They were supposed to have gotten recognized… but somebody… in the hierarchy of the Royal Air Force and wherever else decided that ‘no, this was too controversial to touch.’ And it’s taken 70 years to correct that injustice.”

In addition to the creation of the Bomber Command Bar, the Government of Canada also helped in creating the new Bomber Command Memorial in London, England. The memorial honours all members of the Bomber Command from allied countries. For more information, click here.