Wednesday 21 March 2018

Fresh hopes for war memorial

Campbell Spray

Campbell Spray

THE campaign to have a permanent memorial in Trinity College Dublin to staff and students who died fighting in the Second World War moved up a few more notches recently in light of the pardon for Irish Army "deserters" who then fought for the Allies.

The campaigners in the college, led by Gerald Morgan of the English department and Dr Sarah Alyn Stacey of the French department, can also take heart from the continuing closer links between politicians on this island and British institutions, even from those formerly most opposed to such links.

The visit of Queen Elizabeth last year to the Garden of Remembrance, the War Memorial Gardens by the Liffey and Trinity College was especially encouraging.

Now comes the decision by Martin McGuinness to shake the Queen's hand in her Diamond Jubilee visit to the North this Wednesday. The following day, at a special ceremony in Green Park in London, the Queen will be unveiling a long-overdue memorial to the 55,573 members of Royal Air Force's Bomber Command who were killed.

Research by Mr Morgan and Gavin Hughes has uncovered there were at least 111 Trinity war dead, which included probably more than a dozen people who died while serving with Bomber Command.

As the celebrated author Max Hastings writes in his latest book, All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945: "Flying for eight or 10 hours through flak or fighters or through lonely darkness imposed relentless strain and frequent terror. . . air forces picked only the brightest and fittest for probable death".

On the later debate regarding the morality of unleashing terror on civilians, Mr Hastings writes of a bomber pilot: "It never occurred to him to question the ethics of his own part, as a pilot, in bombing Germany.

"Like almost all his kind, he simply saw himself performing without fervour an exceptionally hazardous role in a struggle to remove the dark threat bearing down upon Western civilisation."

The Bomber Command Memorial in London will also commemorate the people of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of 1939-1945.

Sunday Independent

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