TORONTO, Aug. 26, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today made the inaugural presentation of the new Bomber Command Bar to Veterans at a special ceremony held at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. Veterans of Bomber Command and their families, including those representing deceased Veterans, were in attendance for the ceremony on the grounds of the former Royal Canadian Air Force Staff College.
"Today, our Government is proud to honour Canadians who served in Bomber Command operations during the Second World War by presenting them with the first Bomber Command Bar," said Minister Fantino. "The brave men who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Bomber Command operations did so at a very heavy cost; approximately 10,000 of them paid the ultimate price, losing their lives in the skies of Europe, in training accidents or in prisoners of war camps. There is no question that their courage and dedication played an important part in bringing victory to the Allies in the Second World War."
"The Bomber Command Bar recognizes Canadian Bomber Command Veterans for their commitment and bravery in facing some of the most difficult odds of the Second World War," said Minister Nicholson. "Despite great risk—almost half of all aircrew never made it to the end of their tour—thousands volunteered. The nation stands forever grateful for their service, and we will always remember and honour their bravery and sacrifice. Lest we forget."
"The Royal Canadian Air Force Association is pleased and delighted that the realization of this significant decoration and recognition is finally at hand," said Colonel (Retired) Terry Chester, National President of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association. "Our loyal and brave airmen have waited patiently for this moment; many, sadly, are not now here for this auspicious moment, but we will remember them as we honour those who continue to carry the torch. Per ardua ad astra!"
Canada played a vital role in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), a wide-reaching plan that was jointly undertaken by Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, whose graduates formed the backbone of Bomber Command. Many of the Canadians who trained under this program served with RCAF 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. The Government of Canada created this official honour to formally recognize these brave Canadians.
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, United Kingdom. This memorial honours all members of the Bomber Command from Allied countries and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
For more information on Canada's role in Bomber Command and the Bomber Command Bar, to apply online for the honour or to download a hardcopy of the application form, please visit veterans.gc.ca.
2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to defend the Republic of Korea and uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law. For more information on Canada's role in the Korean War, visit veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
Image with caption: "Minister Julian Fantino today made the inaugural presentation of the new Bomber Command Bar to Veterans at a special ceremony in Toronto. (CNW Group/Veterans Affairs Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130826_C8150_PHOTO_EN_30136.jpg
Image with caption: "Minister Julian Fantino speaks to Veterans and family members at the inaugural presentation of the Bomber Command Bar to Veterans today in Toronto. (CNW Group/Veterans Affairs Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130826_C8150_PHOTO_EN_30137.jpg