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The Tempsford Special Duties Squadrons





12 April 2018

Bob writes...  
I was extremely fortunate in obtaining sponsorship from the Gerry Holdsworth Special Forces Charitable Trust, enabling me to attend this event, representing the TVARA - all Tempsford personnel who were killed in action have their names on the memorial tablets at the IBCC. Purely by chance, I met Geoff Raebel, who is a member of the Australian Bomber Command Association, with whom I've corresponded in the past (he was leading a delegation from Australia), and one of our own members, Alan Biggs, who is a volunteer at the centre. Small world!
The day did not dawn bright and sunny - quite the reverse, but the 300 veterans who attended were not put off by the terrible weather and played their part in the ceremony by performing the symbolic cutting of a very long ribbon; in a way this exemplified the courage of the men and women of Bomber Command - they did what they had to do under, sometimes, incredibly difficult circumstances, and nearly 58,000 of them paid the ultimate price. On such a day, celebrating their memory, it would have been pretty churlish to complain about the weather - but it was awful and, sadly, meant that the planned fly past had to be cancelled. Tempsford crews would have carried on, of course - the low cloud would have meant nothing to them!

Various activities took place during the day - actors from a local drama group portrayed the moments leading up to a mission, with the reading of "last" letters home, while the captain of the aircraft completed pre flight checks.

At another point, an actress read the words of the widow of a member of ground crew, who never spoke about his experiences. She only discovered fully what his tasks had involved when she encountered another member of his unit after his death. Everyone had remarked that he'd had a lovely smile - but he had been a member of one of the crash tender teams responsible for removing bodies (or bits of bodies) from aircraft. How had he gone through life with a smile on his face when he'd seen such things so often?


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