Flying Officer Alan Biffen served in the Royal Air Force from 1942 to 1946, initially flying Wellington bombers, before transferring to Lancasters. In this blog, Alan tells us what the new Bomber Command Memorial means to him.
I remember being at the airfield one day and seeing these big four-engine heavies arriving.
I said to my navigator: ‘Look at the size of them. I only hope I can learn to fly it without bending it!’ The Lancaster was a beautiful aircraft, still the best thing I’ve ever flown.
During my time we hardly ever saw a German night fighter, but there was still plenty of flak around to threaten us. However, in the Lancaster you knew you were in the best aircraft around to get you home in one piece.
I find it difficult to emphasise even to my grandchildren what the Bomber Command Memorial means to me.
Sometimes I look back and wonder, ‘did it all really happen?’ I am so glad that at long last Bomber Command is being remembered not only for what it achieved but also for the lives of the young men who never came back.
Many of them were boys. I myself added a year to my age at 16 so that I could join the air force. I’m delighted to hear that the RAF Benevolent Fund is the guardian of the new Bomber Command Memorial.
I know from experience that they know how to care for the RAF family, so they seem like the best people for the job.It is very moving to see the memorial now it has been unveiled, in its rightful place in the centre of London.
It’s been a long time coming but it was well worth the wait.
By Alan Biffen