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Remembering the 55,573

Ronald ThorpeFlight Sergeant Ronald Thorpe served in the RAF from 1943-1947 as a mid upper gunner on Lancaster bombers. Ronald attended the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial on 28 June – he tells us more in this blog.

I recall one occasion when we were coming back from a raid and two German aircraft came back with us, pretending to be part of our mob.

It was an old trick but it caught us out that time. Nothing happened until we landed – moving at about 100 mph  when suddenly everything exploded around us.

There was nothing else for it but to put our foot down and take off again, doing our best to imitate a rocket! Waddington had one of the biggest bomb dumps around and if it did go up we thought it a good idea to avoid going up with it.

We got out OK and from what we understand there were no casualties. Fate was kind because it was my birthday week. I was 21.

Every time our transports took us air gunners along to our Lancs we knew that some of us would not return. We would only discover who was lost next morning at breakfast, when we saw the empty table places.

We who survived never fail to remember our mates who died. The truth is deep down a part of us died with them.

I'm very pleased this memorial will stand in their honour. They deserve it.

By Ronald Thorpe

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